Asia Merchant Propylene Market Buyers and Sellers
In Asia, mainland China and Indonesia are the two main propylene importing countries, similar to the ethylene market. In 2021, mainland China imported approximately 2.5 million metric tons (mt) of propylene monomer while Indonesia imported approximately 136 kilotons (kt). Thus, the typical trade flow in Asia has been other Asian countries shipping their excess capacities to mainland China and Indonesia.
South Korea remains the largest exporter of propylene in Northeast Asia, having exported 1.65 million mt in 2021; it was followed by Japan, which exported 0.57 million mt of propylene last year. In Southeast Asia, excess capacities used to be shipped to mainland China, Taiwan and Indonesia; however, exports to mainland China have decreased significantly in recent years with the increasing nameplate capacities in Northeast Asia and increasing regional demand within Southeast Asia.
As shown in the graph, mainland China’s propylene import demand has been declining since 2020 with the growing new capacity from crackers and the on-purpose propylene sector, particularly from PDH. However, some import demand will remain in mainland China with steady demand from downstream buyers in East China and South China that re-export their propylene downstream products and need to import propylene to secure the tax benefit. South Korea is likely to remain the largest exporting country of propylene given its ample spare capacity from the recent new capacities built in the past three years.
To get further insight into the outlook for Asia olefins, please join us at our forthcoming conference. Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS, a Dow Jones Company (formerly IHS Markit), is hosting its annual Asia Chemical Forum on the 3rd to the 4th of November. This year’s conference will be held in person in Singapore, and will include speeches from some of the industry’s leading companies, as well as experts from Chemical Market Analytics. Find out more and register now.
Executive Director, Olefins (Asia)
Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS, a Dow Jones Company