Albany, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/02/2014 -- Ethylene is a colorless flammable gas with a musky odor. It is the simplest alkene and unsaturated hydrocarbon after acetylene. It is extensively used in the chemical industry. In addition, it is used in agriculture as a plant hormone to ripen fruits. Ethylene is used to produce ethylene dichloride, ethyl benzene, polyethylene and ethylene oxide among others. Industrial reactions of ethylene include polymerization, oxidation, alkylation, halogenation and hydrohalogenation among others. Furthermore, it is used as an anesthetic agent and as a welding gas.
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The basic raw materials for making polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, butyl rubber and acrylics among others are obtained from ethylene. Ethylene is a prime driver for chemical production. The production of ethylene is anticipated to revive in the North American region on account of the abundant availability of natural gas liquids feedstock at economical prices. In addition, the production in Europe is expected to get affected due to the high crude oil prices.
Ethylene is produced by two processes viz. by steam cracking of paraffinic hydrocarbons and by separation from refinery gas. It is used as an intermediate to produce other raw materials which are subsequently used for various applications. For instance, ethylene is oxidized to produce ethylene oxide which is used to manufacture detergents and surfactants. In addition, it has applications in automotive industry as an antifreeze. Moreover, other ethylene intermediates are used for packaging, insulation, tires and footwear among others.
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The increasing applications of ethylene intermediates in various industries are expected to drive the demand for ethylene within the forecast period. However, ethylene is combustible and carcinogenic. Thus, stringent regulations on the use of ethylene are expected to hamper the market over the next few years. In addition, volatility in the feedstock cost trends may curb the demand for ethylene in the near future.
Asia Pacific is expected to exhibit the fastest growth in the ethylene market followed by the Middle East. Many new capacities are expected to open in Asia and the Middle East in these next few years. Emerging economies such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to have high potential demand for ethylene in this region over the forecast period. In addition, India recently increased its olefins capacity in the recent years. For instance, GAIL, HPL and IOC have contributed to the overall growth of the ethylene market within this region. China is expected to dominate the supply and demand for ethylene and its derivatives in the near future. The production and demand in North America, Europe and Japan is expected to be steady in the near future. North America is expected to witness substantial growth within the forecast period. However, Europe may show a steady growth within the forecast period. Europe, being uncompetitive in chemical production may focus on lower volume, higher-value specialty products to survive in the market.
Some of the major players of the ethylene market are BASF, Chevron Phillips, Dow Chemical, Equistar, ExxonMobil, Formosa, Ineos, Sasol, Shell Chemical and Westlake among others. In May, 2014, LyondellBasell acquired permission for a multi-plant ethylene expansion program in order to increase its annual ethylene capacity by 1.85 billion pounds in North America. Merger and acquisition activities are expected to be on rise within the market over the forecast period.
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