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Petrochemicals Set to be the Largest Energy Consumer

October, 2018

International Energy Agency (IEA) released a study stating that petrochemical industry is set to become the largest crude oil & natural gas consumer in future. The industry which account for almost 14% of the global oil consumption roughly 8% of natural gas demand, is one of the key blind spots in global energy conservation and environment debate as per Fatih Birol, executive director, IEA.

There are few noticeable facts about the industry which many people might not be aware of.

  • Despite being the largest consumer, the industry is only third largest CO2 emitted with significant portion of oil & gas being utilized for non-combustion purposes.

  • The industry not only includes plastics, but also covers fertilizers, clothing, detergents, tires, electronics, medical devices, and packaging among others.

  • Developed countries per capita plastic consumption is 10 to 20 times more than that in developing countries where most of the population lies.

  • Recycling of plastics remains single digit as percentage of global consumption per year

The petrochemical industry is expected to account for 20 billion barrels per day (bbl/day) of oil, while the gas consumption is expected to reach 83 billion cubic meters per day (bcm/day) increasing by 56 bcm/day in coming 32 years by 2050. The major drivers for the growth are:

  • Growing economic development and efforts to pair per capita consumption for petrochemical and derivative products in developing countries which stands more than 10 times in developed countries.

  • Increasing petrochemicals capacities in developing economies easing the import dependencies and enabling better growth.

  • Globalization and westernization of culture in developing and underdeveloped region is improving standard of living and infusing the demand for petrochemical based products.

  • Petrochemical products replacing the traditional materials via replacement e.g. plastics replacing metals, sweeteners replacing sugar, and synthetic fertilizers replacing manure among others

Petrochemicals and its derivatives are on one end facilitating the ease of processes in our life making helping us in our day to day life. While on the other hand, they are consistently increasing demand for energy resources. There are many inventions which are being targeted and rewarded such as to increase the productivity for controlling the raw materials demand; catalytic reactions among others. However, these efforts do not seem enough to contain energy resource demand by sector which is expected to take pole position in coming decades.

- Ankur Kalra,
Infoholic Research