Nick Vafiadis, Global Business Director, Polyolefins and Plastics, IHS Chemical provided an update on the polyolefin market at the recent FPA Annual Meeting.
New ethylene capacity for the polyethylene industry is now beginning to come on line, but there are some changes developing that could alter the impact of the new capacity. The expected new capacity for 2017 is estimated to be around 13 million tons, which is a significant increase, about 1/3 additional capacity of the U.S. today. In spite of the large volume increase, there is a tight supply/demand balance, and even more new capacity is needed. For 2018, the ethylene supply could be tight again, which will keep prices high, and by 2020 ethylene demand will exceed capacity.