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12-18-2014

Global Ethylene Capacity to Reach 208 Million Tons per Year by 2017

Global ethylene capacity will rise from 167 million tons per year (mmty) in 2014 to an estimated 208.5 mmty by 2017, with the US and China accounting for around one-third of additions over the forecast period, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The company’s latest report "Global Ethylene Outlook" states that the US will drive North America’s ethylene capacity from 35.6 mmty in 2014 to 46 mmty by 2017. New plants coming onstream in 2016 and 2017 will contribute most of the region’s capacity additions. The US and China are driving ethylene capacity expansion projects, with the former benefiting from prolific shale gas and the latter from world-leading demand growth.

According to GlobalData, the impact of tremendous growth in shale gas is only now being felt, as North American ethylene capacity had remained flat over the last few years. Meanwhile, China continues to lead growth, solidifying the Asia-Pacific as the single largest production region and helping to push global capacity over the 200 mmty milestone by 2017. Less expensive ethane derived from wet shale gas makes ethylene production highly attractive and is behind large-scale US capacity additions. Many companies, such as Dow Chemical, Chevron Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, are betting on increased competitiveness in the US and are constructing ethane crackers to produce cost-advantaged ethylene.

The report also explains that the Asia-Pacific market will maintain its leading position due to high demand for ethylene from major downstream products, such as polyethylene and ethylene oxide, from China and India. Ethylene capacity expansion in China is comprised of several small plants based on heavy feedstock. Most new plants will come onstream in 2015 and 2016, boosting the country’s capacity by approximately 53% by the end of the decade.

Global Data's report provides analysis of the global ethylene market by size, demand and production volume, including annualized forecast data for ethylene capacity by region from 2013 to 2020. It also evaluates planned plants, capacity shares of the major producers and regional price forecasts for the ethylene industry.

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