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Published: October 2011
Benzene is one of the largest-volume petrochemicals and is the largest of the aromatics.
The United States, Western Europe and Japan combined accounted for 45% and 50% of total world production and actual consumption, respectively, in 2010. As a result of capacity buildup in other regions, these figures will continue to fall through 2016.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of benzene:
Benzene demand throughout the world is dominated by the production of three derivatives—ethylbenzene, cumene and cyclohexane. These derivatives account for 80–85% of benzene consumed globally. Overall benzene demand suffered beginning in 2008 as derivative markets softened from the impact of the economic downturn, falling 9% during 2008–2009 but improving 5–8% in 2010. Preliminary estimates for 2011 suggest global benzene demand will reach prerecessionary levels, despite rising concerns over slowing economic growth in the United States and Western Europe.
Ethylbenzene, the largest end use at 51% of global demand in 2010, experienced a sharp recovery in 2010 and into 2011 on rebounding automotive markets, including strong demand for solution SBR. Global benzene demand for ethylbenzene will grow 3.5% annually during 2010–2016 with China exhibiting the fastest growth at 13.4% annually. The Middle East and Asia (aside from Japan and China) will experience 3–5% average annual growth while North American, Western European and Japanese ethylbenzene demand will improve at a rate of 1–2% per year. Estimates for Central and South America indicate double-digit growth influenced by expansions planned for 2014–2019.
Cumene is the second-largest outlet for benzene at approximately 20% of global benzene demand in 2010. Rising demand in polycarbonates for automotive, construction and appliance markets, particularly in Asia, will lead to average annual growth of just over 3%.
Cyclohexane, the third-largest end use (11% in 2010), is used primarily as a feedstock for nylon (polyamide) fibers and resins, which have been hindered over the past decade by weakening carpet demand exacerbated by the global economic downturn. Global demand for cylcohexane should range between 3.5% and 4% annually over the forecast period, based on further developments in Latin America and Asia.
World benzene demand is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.5% from 2010 through 2016.