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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Asian metallocene LLDPE, once a niche grade, displaces more PE market share

Metallocene-grade linear low density polyethylene, once a niche grade in Asia, is expected to make up as much as 20% of the region’s polyethylene production capacity in the long term, producers and traders said this week.

They expect mLLDPE production capacity to rise 8% next year to about 2.4 million mt. Demand for the grade is being driven by downstream use in stretch film, which accounts for 75%-90% of mLLDPE consumption.

Two mLLDPE plants are set to start by the end of this year: Japanese producer Prime Polymer’s 300,000 mt/year plant on Jurong Island, Singapore, and GAIL India’s 100,000 mt/year mLLDPE unit at its new 400,000 mt/year PE at the Pata complex in Uttar Pradesh.

By the end of next year, Saudi Arabia’s Sadara Chemical is on track to start its 220,000 mt/year metallocene polyolefin plant.

Further out, Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical plans to build a 400,000 mt/year metallocene C6 LLDPE at Map Ta Phut by 2018, and Malaysian state-owned Petronas plans to build a 350,000 mt/year C6-based mLLDPE plant in Pengerang, Johor, by mid-2019.

Competitor products to mLLDPE include Zieglar-Natta LLDPE, low density polyethylene, ethyl vinyl acetate and expanded polystyrene in film applications, and occasionally high density polyethylene and polypropylene in specific applications such as wires and cables.

The product trades at a premium to regular butene LLDPE because it is stronger.

It can be used in thinner layers without breaking, so packaging and freight costs are lower. Prices for mLLPDE were heard around $1,300/mt CFR China Thursday, while normal butene LLDPE was assessed at $1,120/mt CFR China Thursday.

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