The global petrochemicals market was valued at US$472.06 bln in 2011 and is expected to reach US$791.05 bl by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 6.7% from 2012 to 2018. In terms of volume, the global petrochemicals consumption was 436.86 mln tons in 2011 and is expected to reach 627.51 mln tons by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 5.4% from 2012 to 2018, as per Transparency Market Research.
Growing consumption from major end use industries including construction, packaging, transportation, textile, plastics, healthcare and so on coupled with favorable operating conditions mainly in the Middle East and Asia Pacific is expected to drive the global market for petrochemicals over the next five years. Government initiatives in India and China to set up petrochemical complexes in the region are also expected to fuel the market growth. The rapid exploration and development of unconventional gases such as shale gas is also expected to provide feedstock advantage to petrochemical producers. However, volatile raw material prices and growing environmental concerns regarding the production and usage of various petrochemicals are expected to be a key challenge for market participants. Regulatory intervention has resulted in the industry shifting focus towards developing bio-based alternatives for petrochemicals. China was the leading consumer of petrochemicals and accounted for over 25% of the global consumption in 2011. Along with being the largest market, China is also expected to be fastest growing market, at a CAGR of 6.7% from 2012 to 2018, owing its significant downstream processing capacity. Asia Pacific including China accounted for over 45% of the total demand in 2011. North American market for petrochemicals is expected to be driven by rapid development of shale gas in the U.S. The global market for petrochemicals is highly fragmented in nature. Top ten companies accounted for just over 49% of the total petrochemicals market in 2011. BASF, Sinopec and Exxon Mobil were the largest petrochemical manufacturers and together accounted for nearly 20% of the total market share in 2011.
Ethylene dominated the petrochemical market and accounted for over 28% of the total consumption in 2011. Growing demand for polyethylene, a major derivative of ethylene, mainly from packaging industry is expected to boost the global market for ethylene over the forecast period. However, widening supply- demand gap due to capacity addition in the Middle East and Asia Pacific is expected to put pressure on ethylene prices, globally. In terms of volume, methanol is expected to be fastest growing petrochemical at an estimated CAGR of 10.3% from 2012 to 2018. The growth of methanol is largely driven by its emerging application in gasoline blending and conversion of methanol to olefins (MTO).