Subjects coming under the spotlight this year included:
- the worsening polymer supply/demand imbalance;
- the increasing importance of supply logistics for bringing materials into Europe and North America from new mega-plants in the Middle East;
- the enduring importance of low density polyethylene in critical packaging applications;
- the advantages of comonomer flexibility for suppliers and users of linear-low density polyethylene;
- the role of additives in cost containment at polymer suppliers and processors.
In his scene-setting presentation, Konrad Scheidl, Executive V.P. and Partner at MBS, emphasized the global shift in PO production capacity. While 20 years ago, close to two-thirds of all global polyethylene capacity was in Western Europe and North America, by 2015 it will be just one-third, and the regions will be major net importers. The Middle East, China and Asia Pacific will have tripled their share to almost half, although China will still be a net importer. And all the while, total capacity will have almost quadrupled. Data for polypropylene are quite similar.
Global PE + PP capacity surplus through 2013 (Source MBS)