It's going to take a special and specialized solution for the global plastics market to come back from the recession.
Commodity polyolefin plants all over the world are trying to upgrade to specialty polyolefins, said Balaji Singh, president of Chemical Market Resources Inc. consulting firm in Houston.
There's no region in the world that doesn't want or need these products, Singh said in an interview at his Houston office.
With this belief in mind, Singh and his staff have prepared a two-volume, multiclient study that reviews 54 specialty polyolefins in commercial production, and their potential markets.
The study covers ethylene- and propylene-based materials. The ethylene side includes bimodal resins, elastomers and olefin block copolymers. The propylene materials include polyolefin nanocomposites, terpolymers and thermoplastic vulcanizates.
Specialty polyolefins can help established petrochemical firms remain competitive as commodity production moves to feedstock-advantaged regions like the Middle East, CMR said. The higher growth rates and larger profit margins enjoyed by the materials could help a rebound, although Singh said he believes the global petrochemical market won't return to 2007 levels until 2013. Firms with old capacity and older products might not do so until 2020 if they can survive that long.
You can't replace in four years what took many years to build, Singh said. And when you get back, you won't have as many employees because technology will have improved.
You can't afford to be Neanderthals when the world is filled with exotic birds.