Plastics News reporter Frank Esposito gathered these items at the petrochemical conferences held March 27-29 in Houston.
Ethylene prices set to bottom out in '02
Massive expansions in 2001 are expected to lead U.S. ethylene prices downward until they bottom out at around 23 cents per pound in 2002.
That is the outlook from Chemical Market Associates Inc. consultant Mark Eramo, who pointed out more than 17 billion pounds of capacity will be added worldwide this year—with more than 6 billion pounds of that total coming from the United States and Canada.
As a result, global nameplate ethylene capacity will top the 100 million-ton mark for the first time in history.
Pricewise, ethylene should rebound after 2002, hitting the 27 cent-per-pound level in 2004, Eramo said. CMAI currently estimates North American ethylene prices at about 33 cents a pound.
Propylene to fall to 21 cents per pound
Polymer-grade propylene prices are expected to bottom out this year at an average price of about 21 cents per pound, Chemical Market Associates Inc. consultant Steve Zinger said.
Zinger also anticipates U.S. propylene prices will start to climb again in 2002, before peaking at around 24 cents per pound in 2004.
Operating rates at U.S. propylene plants should remain around 80 percent in 2001-02, according to CMAI. Roughly 5.5 billion pounds of new propylene capacity is set to come on stream in the United States and Canada through 2003.
CMAI currently prices polymer-grade propylene at 22.5 cents per pound.
India's consumption of polymer to soar
India is on track to become the world's third-largest polymer consumer by 2010, according to an executive with that country's largest polymer maker.
Kamal Nanavaty, president of Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, anticipates India will use more than 30 billion pounds of polymers in 2010, trailing only the United States and China. India now ranks ninth globally, consuming about 7.5 billion pounds annually.
This growth spurt will be fueled by rising disposable incomes, increased rural marketing, greater brand awareness and significant infrastructure needs, said Nanavaty, whose firm claims to control about 40 percent of the Indian polymers market.