In the last quarter of 2012 olefins market situation in Western Europe did not improve. Last year was the second-weakest olefin production year over the course of the past eight years. During this time span, output was less only in crisis-ridden 2009.
Official data released by the Association of Petrochemicals Producers in Europe (APPE) show that Europe's ethylene output amounted to about 4.5m t in the last quarter of 2012 - slightly higher than in 2011 and significantly more than what was produced in the catastrophic final quarter of 2008, but still about 200,000 t less than turned out in the last quarter 2009. That means a total of 18.9m t of C2 was produced in 2012, about 100,000 t more than during 2009. At the same time, this figure is about 3m t lower, or 14% less, than what was produced in 2007, the year before the crisis.
Similarly, European overall propylene output in 2012 reached 14.3m t, about 60,000 t more than in 2009, but roughly 1.4m t, or 9%, less than in 2007. It is not surprising given the fact that European naphtha crackers produce both ethylene and C3.
The average annual price of ethylene reached a record EUR 1,239/t, up 8.7% over 2011. By contrast, at EUR 1,117/t, propylene prices receded slightly. Both figures are between 30-37% higher than the EUR 904/t and EUR 859/t fetched for C2 and C3 respectively in 2007.
Olefin market in crisis