When ethylene oxide is processed further, it forms a sweet tasting colorless liquid called ethylene glycol/ monoethylene glycol (MEG). MEG is the most widely used glycol in the global market. Manufacture of MEG from ethylene oxide coproduces diethylene glycol (DEG) and triethylene glycol (TEG). MEG, DEG and TEG are used as chemical intermediates in many products. Ethylene oxide is mostly used for the manufacturing of ethylene glycols, thus prices changes of former have an effect on the latter’s pricing. MEG is used as feedstock in many processes. It is majorly used in the production of PET bottle resins, polyester fiber and films. Other uses include as dewatering agent, antifreeze, coolant and heat transfer agent, hydrate inhibition, runway de-icing fluids and precursor to polymers. Niche applications include presence in very small amounts in pesticides, aircraft components, automobile parts, inks, dyes, shoe polish, cleaners, biological preserving agent and wood treating coats. DEG is used in the production of unsaturated polyester resins and polyurethanes. Most of TEG is consumed for dehydration of natural gas. However this market is very sluggish, reasons being the high cost involved in manufacturing and refining processes with lower glycol byproducts.
The global bulk chemicals market has been experiencing a significant growth due to its increased use in the downstream market applications especially the booming textile industry and PET resin products industry. Its applications include consumer goods oriented or purely industrial in nature owing to the harmful properties of these chemicals. With its fast growing textile markets, Asia Pacific has been rapidly emerging as a major consumer market for ethylene glycols (polyester fibres and fabrics). The advantages ethylene glycols based products have over use of glass or other materials in the industry are significant globally. Substitution has thus become a key factor in driving the market growth of these chemicals. Optimized processes, equipments and catalysts are essential to overcome the price volatility caused by crude oil and its resultant upward trend of prices of ethylene glycol based products. This increase in prices for buyers is expected to be a hurdle in market growth. Apart from this, guidelines for safe handling, production, transportation, use, storage and disposal of ethylene glycols need to be adhered to considering the major health and environment threats posed by glycols.
The ethylene glycol market was dominated by monoethylene glycol (MEG) with about 90% of the volume share in 2013 and is expected to be the fastest growing segment with an estimated CAGR of 4.8% for the forecasted period of 2014 to 2020. MEG is also expected to be the highest revenue grossing segment with a CAGR of 5.1% for the period of 2014 to 2020. Since DEG and TEG are minor co products of the manufacturing process, their volumes account for lesser shares than that of MEG. Among them, TEG is expected to be the slowest growing segment with an estimated CAGR of 3.6% in terms of volume for the forecasted period.
The key applications of ethylene glycols include PET, polyester fibers, antifreeze, films and other niche segments. Among these, application in fibers is expected to rise at the fastest rate with an estimated CAGR of 5.1% while antifreeze segment growth being slowest at a CAGR of 3.9% in terms of volume for the forecasted 2014 to 2020 period. In terms of revenue, PET segment emerges with an estimated CAGR of 5.4% till 2020, also considering its dominance in revenue section for the year 2013.
Asia Pacific was a dominant consumer of ethylene glycol in 2013 with 66.46% volume share and is expected to continue this trend with a CAGR of 4.9%, above the consolidated CAGR of 4.7%. This can be attributed to the emerging textile and automotive industries in this region. RoW consumption accounted for the lowest volume share of only 6.94%.
SABIC dominates with 28% of the market share. It is followed by DOW, Sinopec and Shell. The ethylene glycols market is moderately fragmented. Few other market players include Reliance Industries Ltd. - India, Huntsman Corporation- US, BASF- Germany, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Akzonobel- Amsterdam, Clariant- Switzerland, Formosa Plastics Group- Taiwan, Exxon Mobil Corp., Ineos Oxide, Ultrapar Participacoes Sa, Lyondellbasell Industries and Honam Petrochemical Corporation.