Plastics News has been talking polyethylene at K 2016. The world's largest commodity plastic was on the minds of many at the world's largest plastics trade show.
There are billions of pounds of new PE capacity coming on in North America in the next few years. These expansions are cashing in on newfound supplies affordable natural gas feedstock in the region. The list of firms adding PE capacity includes Dow Chemical Co., ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and Nova Chemicals.
“The old Dow would have looked at new plants as growth from a volume standpoint,” Dow executive Jim Fitterling said in an interview with PN at K 2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany. “But now, no one is doing as much with new product innovations as we are.”
“We know where this material is going before we start the plant,” added Fitterling, who serves as president and chief operating officer for Midland, Mich.-based Dow.
Overcapacity isn't a concern of Tomas Deman, global PE marketing manager for ExxonMobil of Houston. “It's a big industry that's growing fast,” he told PN. “It adds [almost 9 billion pounds] of demand every year. That's six world-scale [PE] plants.”
Nova PE vice president Chris Bezaire said at a press event hosted by his firm that the North American PE market “is an exciting place – it's had a renaissance in the last 7 or 8 years.”
Bezaire — whose firm is based in Calgary, Alberta — acknowledged that new North American PE capacity will result in increased exports from the region. “We could see exports permanently shift to a higher level from North America,” he said.
Many more PE-related chats were had over bratwurst and beer at the show. Prost!