With the increase in Shale gas E&P activities across the globe, leading with North America, Europe, Argentina and now China the global chemical/petrochemical industry downstream is expected to witness a critical make over due to the supply shortages in various chemical feedstock. Ethylene, propylene, butadiene and benzene are the four building blocks of various chemicals or petrochemicals produced downstream for consumption by end use industries.
Shale Gas is an unconventional, un-associated gas which contains 75-90% Methane, 15-5% Ethane and the rest C3’s and heavier hydrocarbons. With lower percentage of heavier hydrocarbons the supply of propylene, butadiene and benzene are expected to decline with respect to Ethylene supply. Excess of Shale production has resulted into an increasing preference for ethane cracking compared to Naphtha cracking, which would result in a supply shortage for C3’s and above. The result would be lower availability of propylene and other basic chemicals. In order to ensure optimum supply, on purpose technologies are being built in North America and Asia Pacific. On purpose technologies include CTL/CTO (Coal to Liquids/Olefins), MTO/MTP (methanol to olefins/propylene), PDH (propane dehydrogenation) and Metathesis. Use of Coal to produce synthetic fuels and petrochemicals has been present for more than 50 years with Germany utilizing this technology to provide fuel for its units during the 2nd World War. The technology was not utilized due to its high operational cost and lower market feasibility with adequate Crude oil supplies. But the decrease in the use of Crude Oil due to environmental concern opened up opportunities for Coal to be used as a feedstock for production of petrochemicals and synthetic fuels.
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With the increasing production of Shale Gas the demand for ethane cracking has increased hence resulting in a lower yield of...