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Editorial comment

A recent report from GlobalData forecasts that global propylene capacity is set for significant growth over the next nine years from 121.3 million tpy in 2017 to 148.1 million tpy.1

The report, entitled ‘Q2 2018 Quarterly Global Propylene Capacity and Capital Expenditure Outlook – China Continues to Drive Global Capacity Growth’, predicts that Asia and the Middle East will drive the majority of this market growth. As the name of the report suggests, China will lead the way. With 31 planned and announced propylene plants, including major capacity additions from Oriental Energy and Zhejiang Petrochemical, GlobalData expects China to possess a total capacity of approximately 10 million tpy by 2022. CAPEX for these new plants will total US$5.63 billion.


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In the Middle East, GlobalData notes that there are 14 planned and announced propylene plants in Iran that are set to commence operations by 2024, with a total capacity of around 2.3 million tpy. Meanwhile, the US is expected to spend US$0.9 billion over the next eight years on three propylene plants, boosting capacity by 1.2 million tpy; Bolivia will drive growth in South America, with 0.4 million tpy of planned additions by 2021; and Egypt will add around 1.4 million tpy of capacity by 2021 at an investment cost of US$1.30 billion.

In Europe, Russia is expected to have a capacity of approximately 1.2 million tpy by 2022 following an investment of US$1.07 billion, while Belgium plans to spend US$0.71 billion on 0.7 million tpy of capacity additions, which should come on-stream by 2021.

All of this points to the increasing importance of the petrochemical sector – an issue that is discussed in greater detail throughout this issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering. Wood Mackenzie provides a global outlook for the ethylene industry, starting on p. 18, forecasting robust demand growth that will average approximately 2.8% per year to 2035 (relative to global GDP growth of 2.6% per year). Wood Mackenzie expects the ethylene market to develop from its current position of 160 million t to 250 million t by 2035, with China once again playing a key role.

On p. 24 of this issue, Apex PetroConsultants explores whether petrochemicals could be the answer to crude oil demand in the short, medium and long-term. The article presents the business case for petrochemical integration at refineries in light of forecasts of higher petrochemicals growth as compared to transportation fuels in the next 10 to 20 years.

This issue also includes a range of technical articles discussing topics such as the effective utilisation of valves in ethylene project engineering (p. 31), the benefits of oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) technologies for olefin production (p. 37), and the value of increasing propylene and LPG olefins output from fluid catalytic cracking units (p. 43 and 47).

I hope you enjoy this issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering. We are currently planning our issues for early 2019, so if you have a story to tell, we’d like to hear from you. Please get in touch via the contact details on the left of this page.

  1. 'Q2 2018 Quarterly Global Propylene Capacity and Capital Expenditure Outlook – China Continues to Drive Global Capacity Growth', GlobalData, (July 2018).

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