Global polyethylene demand is forecast to rise by approximately 3.7% per year between 2013 and 2018, at a slightly higher level than its growth during the 2003 to 2013 period, according to a recent report from GlobalData. The report states that this higher-than-historic increase will occur in the U.S. and Europe, primarily in Russia. The U.S. is expected to see a 2.4% growth rate per year during the forecast period, in comparison to its 0.7% levels from 2003 to 2013. Meanwhile, demand in Europe, including Russia, will climb at 2.8% per year from 2013 to 2018, almost three times the level witnessed during the last decade. These demand rises in the U.S. and Russia will reportedly be somewhat offset by a lower increase of 4.8% in Asia, compared to its 6% rate during 2003 and 2013, due primarily to the region’s slower economic growth.

“Lower feedstock costs from U.S. shale gas production are providing the country with a competitive advantage, with increasing investments in its petrochemical plants driving polyethylene demand growth in both domestic and international markets,” said Carmine Rositano, managing analyst covering Downstream Oil and Gas. “Although below recent historical levels, demand in Asia remains fairly robust and will continue to boost expansion in the global polyethylene market. 

“As a result, polyethylene capacity is now expected to increase at about 5.3% per year between 2013 and 2018, which is higher than the 3.6% experienced over the last decade. Capacity additions will be most prevalent in the U.S., given its advantaged cost competitive position, as well as Russia, which is augmenting its petrochemical industry to reduce its reliance on imports. New capacity will also continue to come online in Asia, but at a slower-than-historic rate.”

Despite the lower estimated cost of crude oil in the forward price curve to 2018, prices for polyethylene are expected to increase at around 1.3% per year up to the end of the forecast period. This is attributable to petrochemical demand increasing at approximately three times the rate of that for oil.

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