In recent years, the domestic styrene industry has developed steadily. By the end of 2018, China’s annual production capacity reached about 9.5 million tons. In the next few years, styrene production capacity will continue to expand, downstream demand is insufficient to follow up, import volume will be significantly reduced, and the supply and demand pattern will appear larger variables.
Great increase in capacity
In 2018, a total of 760,000 tons/year styrene production capacity was added in Qingdao Bay and Haoyuan, Anhui Province. In the next few years, with the hot construction of integrated refining and chemical projects, Hengli Petrochemical, Zhejiang Refining and Chemical and other large-scale new styrene plants are planned to start up, together with the new projects of other enterprises, the total capacity of styrene plants planned to put into operation this year and next year alone has exceeded 5 million tons/year, and the domestic supply of styrene will increase substantially.
It is noteworthy that the propylene oxide/styrene (PO/SM) co-oxidation process has increased significantly in the planned new plant. Wanhua Chemistry and Tianjin Bohua Chemical Company have chosen co-oxidation process. Compared with the traditional ethylbenzene dehydrogenation method, the investment and operation cost of co-oxidation method are reduced.
Previously, the co-oxidation process has been in the hands of foreign companies, such as Leandberg Basel, Shell, Repsall and so on. On January 5 this year, Wanhua Chemical Co-oxidation of Ethylbenzene with its own intellectual property rights to produce propylene oxide with high efficiency and green technology has passed the appraisal of achievements organized by China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation, and will be applied to the company’s new PO/SM plant in the future, which will break the technological monopoly of foreign companies.
In the traditional ethylbenzene dehydrogenation process, the use of raw materials is also more variable. More and more companies began to choose dry gas as the source of ethylene raw material, in order to achieve high value-added comprehensive utilization of refinery dry gas and promote resource conservation.
Insufficient follow-up of demand
Although the production capacity of styrene will increase dramatically, the overall follow-up of demand is insufficient. Industry insiders analysis, in 2018 as the main downstream of styrene ABS, EPS and PS production capacity is less, in the next few years, the planned production capacity in these areas is far lower than the expansion rate of raw styrene, coupled with the pressure of Sino-US trade war on the export of end products, the overall downstream support for styrene is insufficient. Significant reduction in imports
In addition to capacity and demand, imports also have a greater impact on the supply and demand pattern of styrene. As we all know, styrene in China is heavily dependent on imports, while products originated in Korea, Taiwan and the United States account for half of the imported Styrene Market in China.
On June 22, 2018, the Ministry of Commerce issued a final ruling on imported styrene originating in Korea, Taiwan and the United States, levying anti-dumping duties from the next day. With the implementation of anti-dumping and the increase of domestic production capacity, the import volume of styrene will be significantly reduced, and domestic styrene will become the new darling of the market. This can be seen from last year’s customs data. According to statistics, from July to November 2018, China imported 124.32 million tons of styrene, a decrease of 11.3% compared with the same period last year.
Generally speaking, with the successive start-up of integrated refining and chemical projects, the domestic production capacity is expected to expand substantially with the supporting styrene plant. At the same time, the anti-dumping policies on products from Korea, the United States and other regions have rapidly increased the proportion of domestic styrene in the market, and the supply pattern of styrene industry has changed greatly. In terms of the import volume of styrene from 3 million to 4 million tons per year in recent years, if the new production capacity can be released in the next two years, domestic styrene products may completely replace imported products.