Petrochem demand is booming in China. China expects to consume 18.5 million tons of ethylene next year, expected to jump to 27 million tons by 2010. This will mark a 10% expected growth in demand for petrochemical products in the next decade. At the current rates, China can produce 14 million tons of ethylene in 2010, far from the consumption levels and definitely not enough to meet demand. China will have to rely heavily on imports to solve its shortages.
This double digit growth also leaves ample space for foreign firms willing to invest in the petrochem sector. The Chinese Government has given great support to further expand the petrochemical industry by working out policies favourable to improve the business environment for foreign investors. Priority will be given to ethylene and other big chemical projects and in the period from 2004-10 period, some projects involving refineries, ethylene and other chemicals will be put into operation. Several ethylene projects, with an annual combined capability of producing 3.2 million tons of ethylene at a combined investment of US$12.6 billion, have been launched by co-operating with majors BASF, BP, Shell and Exxon. These are are expected to go onstream before 2007.