Published May 2016
Ethanolamines are a class of organic compounds that include monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA), and triethanolamine (TEA). They are used in surfactants, gas purification, herbicides, and wood preservatives. Commercially, ethanolamines are created by reacting an appropriate amount of an amine (either ammonia, MEA, or DEA) with ethylene oxide (EO).
Significant capacity expansions since 2008 have resulted in global overcapacity.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of ethanolamines:
China added a wave of new capacity during 2010–15. China continues to expand capacity to reduce its reliance on imports and satisfy its growing demand for ethanolamines.
Despite current global overcapacity, several expansions in various regions are planned, with the most significant being the start-up of Sadara Chemical’s plant in Saudi Arabia in 2016.
The markets with the most growth potential by type of ethanolamine will be herbicides (for DEA), ethyleneamines and triazines (for MEA), and ester quats (for TEA). Most applications are mature. MEA consumption for triazines has a promising outlook, as opposed to its consumption in wood preservatives, which has declined but is sustainable. MEA triazines are used in the removal of acid gases such as H2S from natural gas, refinery streams, and olefins cracker products,and present an expanding market for ethanolamines.
In North America, ethanolamines consumption is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of about 2% between 2015 and 2020. Herbicides will drive ethanolamines consumption in North America as well as the world, followed by surfactants (to a lesser extent). Gas treatment applications are also expected to grow in the next five years.
The Western European ethanolamine industry is going through a difficult period—volatile and high ethylene prices have reduced producers’ margins to levels that are not sustainable over a long period of time, export opportunities have been reduced (as several world-scale units have been brought onstream recently, especially in Asia and the Middle East), and imports could increase in the future (following the start-up of new facilities that enjoy low-cost raw material).
Overall, world ethanolamines consumption is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of about 3.5% during 2015–20, driven by consumption in China.