Propylene glycol is a viscous synthetic liquid derived either from propylene oxide under petroleum-based pathway or glycerine via the bio-based way of production. Specific properties, low toxicity and large versatility make it an attractive commodity in many industrial and commercial applications. The general outlook for the propylene glycol market for this year is of a modest growth at a near equilibrium point when a large demand rise is hardly anticipated and new capacity additions in the pre-2017 period are not instrumental enough to shift the balance on the global scale, though regional markets can be affected. For example, last year, Sadara Chemical Company, a JV between Saudi Aramco and The Dow Chemical Company, launched a 1.5m tonne/year mixed-feed cracker in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The complex comprises 26 integrated production units (started consecutively), including a 70 thous. mt/y propylene glycol unit, which will definitely play a significant role in propylene glycol production in the Middle East by filling important gaps in the regional chemical industry. Of course, on a global scale the propylene glycol production in the Middle East is almost non-existent, but the potential of this region is enormous.
Propylene glycol: structure of the global output by region (2015)
As for other regional markets, for instance, Europe, North America and South East Asia (to some extent), the current rise in demand and feedstock (propylene) prices, coupled with tighter supply, is driving upward the prices for propylene glycol and its related products (like propylene glycol methyl ether and propylene glycol methyl ether acetate). It might be that some of these regions will continue to experience tightened supply and rises in feedstock prices throughout the year, but this could hardly be a very strong and pronounced trend since other factors could readily offset the upward dynamics. It is more likely that the global propylene glycol market will fluctuate around some sort of a balancing point, when all shortages and price hikes will be successfully mitigated, while the demand will start to shift towards the emerging specialty chemicals market and more specialised chemicals industry.
More information on the world’s propylene glycol market can be found in the insightful research study “Propylene Glycol (PG): 2017 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2021”.