In the first four months of 2012, US chemicals output grew just 0.5% year-on-year (y-o-y), with the three month moving average for March and April seeing declines of 0.4% and 0.3% respectively, according to figures provided by the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Despite the slowdown in 2012, investment in capacity is accelerating as US natural gas prices have become affordable and relatively stable. Over the last quarter BMI has revised the following views:
- BMI believes that the 4% growth forecast for 2012 in the previous quarter now looks overly optimistic and chemicals output is now likely to rise by just 2.5%. The main concern will be the extent to which the eurozone crisis impacts on the US economy.
- By 2016, ethylene production capacity should have exceeded 30 mln tpa, an increase of around 12% over 2011 levels. Expansion is set to continue during the forecast period, particularly in downstream polymers and olefins. US ethylene production could therefore reach record highs in the coming years.