Although not expanding at an astonishing rate, the U.S. chemical and petrochemical industries are experiencing steady growth, a report from Business Monitor International (BMI) indicates.
Petrochemical producers are benefiting from the low price of ethane and are set to achieve a robust performance this year, especially those related to recovering sectors, like the construction industry, but questions have been raised over the industry's ability to implement the planned capacity expansion. If output increases in the long term, the surplus in production will have to be exported and many analysts are doubtful that this could happen.
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The latest forecast for U.S. petrochemical producers predicts a challenging time. Europe, one of the biggest markets for U.S. petrochemical production, is still in the grip of tough economic conditions, which have an impact on demand. Nevertheless, manufacturers in the United States have the competitive advantage of working with cheap ethane feedstock, enabling them to continue performing well.
The report found that over the first four months of 2013 high-density polyethylene exports grew 29 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching a total of 661,580 tons. Low-density polyethylene exports also rose but at a more modest rate, up 7.2 percent, to 234,534 tons. Similarly, exports of linear low-density polyethylene rose 11 percent, to 212,408 tons. Over the period between January and April, the biggest consumers of U.S. petrochemical products were Canada, Mexico and Brazil, the BMI stated.