Ethylene producers are recovering from the sharp drop witnessed in 2009. Ethylene prices already recovered during 2010, after they had declined at an average rate of 35% in 2009. By 2017, worldwide ethylene revenue will once again peak to 2008 peak volumes, at over US$160 bln, as per Ceresana Research.
The Asia-Pacific region will continue to dominate the market in future and generate more than a third of worldwide demand. The pioneer will be China that will rise to become the greatest ethylene consumer worldwide, and will therefore drive out the United States to the second place, followed by Saudi Arabia. However, countries of the Middle East exhibit the largest increases in ethylene production and demand. Volumes in the Middle East have doubled over the past eight years, and Ceresana Research expects to see a further doubling by 2015.
More than a third of the sold ethylene is processed into polyethylene, which is for example used in construction materials made of HDPE, or LDPE packaging. The production of ethylene oxide accounts for roughly 11% of global ethylene demand. Ethylene oxide is mainly used to produce ethylene glycol which is a pre-product of polyester. The production of textile fibers is, above all, growing significantly in Asia. Additionally, producers of ethylene oxide are profiting from the substitution of glass by PET bottles.