Oil demand growth to shift to petrochemicals away from motor fuels

In this April 24, 2015 file photo, pumpjacks work in a field near Lovington, New Mexico, US. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Oil demand growth to shift to petrochemicals away from motor fuels

LONDON: Strong global demand for oil and gas will shift in the next five years toward petrochemicals and away from motor fuels gasoline and diesel, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
Demand for products ranging from fertilizers to plastics and beauty products would drive roughly a quarter of the expected oil demand growth to 2023, the IEA said in its five-year outlook.
This would bolster more anaemic growth in gasoline and diesel, also known as gasoil, as fuel efficiency and declining developed world consumption takes its toll, it said.
World oil demand is expected to rise by 6.9 million barrels per day (bpd) to 2023, or 1.2 million bpd per year, it said, with a quarter of this growth, or 1.7 million bpd, coming from demand for petrochemical feedstocks ethane and naphtha.
“Global economic growth is lifting more people into the middle class in developing countries and higher incomes mean sharply rising demand for consumer goods and services,” the IEA said.
“A large group of chemicals derived from oil and natural gas are crucial to the manufacture of many products that satisfy this rising demand,” it added.
Naphtha is made by oil refineries processing crude, but other petrochemical feedstocks — ethane or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) — largely bypass the refining industry.
The boom in US shale oil boom has dramatically expanded the availability of ethane, and a string of new projects on the US Gulf Coast are underway to process it.
In total, the world is expected to add 1.4 million bpd in new petrochemical-producing steam crackers to 2023, the IEA said.
Demand for ethane would expand by the fastest pace in the next five years, rising by 885,000 bpd, followed by naphtha with growth of 495,000 bpd and LPG with growth of 40,000 bpd, it said.
Jet fuel, supported by growing demand for air travel, would grow by a 1.2 percent to 2023, the IEA said.
But it said demand for gasoline and diesel would rise by 0.7 percent each, with expansion slowed by fuel efficiency standards that now cover two thirds of the world’s top car markets.
More than 80 percent of global car sales are now in markets covered by efficiency standards, including China, India the US and Europe. The IEA said this “will impact strongly on future oil demand.”


China’s real estate investment slows as caution sinks in

Updated 19 October 2018
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China’s real estate investment slows as caution sinks in

  • Property increases downside risks to economy
  • September new construction starts up by a fifth

BEIJING: Growth in China’s real estate investment eased in September and home sales fell for the first time since April, as developers dialled back expansion plans amid economic uncertainties and as additional curbs on speculative investment kicked in.
A cooling market could increase the downside risks to the world’s second-largest economy, which faces broader headwinds including an intensifying trade war with the United States.
However, while analysts acknowledge increasing caution in the property market, they say investment levels are still relatively high, suggesting a hard landing remains unlikely.
Growth in real estate investment, which mainly focuses on residential but also includes commercial and office space, rose 8.9 percent in September from a year earlier, compared with a 9.2 percent rise in August, Reuters calculated from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data out on Friday.
“I think overall, China’s real estate market is still resilient, and the decline in sales is within our expectations,” said Virginia Huang, Managing Director of A&T Services, CBRE Greater China.
“There is no sign that the government has relaxed their control, but it still has many methods and tools to support the market if the economy deteriorates rapidly,” Huang said.
Real estate has been one of the few bright spots in China’s investment landscape, partly due to robust sales in smaller cities where a government clampdown on speculation has been not as aggressive as it is in larger cities.
The market has struggled as authorities continued to keep a tight grip over the sector, ramping up control in hundreds of cities. Transactions fell sharply over the period dubbed “Golden September and Silver October,” traditionally a high season for new home sales.
Property sales by floor area fell 3.6 percent in September from a year earlier, compared with a 2.4 percent gain in August, according to Reuters calculations, the first decline since April. In year-to-date terms, property sales rose 2.9 percent in the first three quarters.
China’s central bank governor Yi Gang said last week he still sees plenty of room for adjustment in interest rates and the reserve requirement ratio (RRR), as downside risks from trade tensions with the United States remain significant.
The government has implemented four RRR cuts this year, releasing hundreds of billions in new liquidity to the market.
China has for several years pushed a deleveraging campaign to reduce financial risks, clamping down on shadow banking and closing many “grey” financing channels for real estate firms.
For many highly leveraged developers, there are already signs of increasing caution as exemplified by a surge in failed land auctions due to tight liquidity and thinning margins.
New construction starts measured by floor area, an indicator of developers’ expansion appetite, rose 20.3 percent in September from a year earlier, compared with a 26.6 percent gain in August, Reuters calculations showed.
That’s against the backdrop of seemingly looser funding conditions for China’s real estate developers, who raised 12.2 trillion yuan ($1.76 trillion) in the first nine months, up 7.8 percent from the same period a year earlier, the NBS said.
The growth rate compared with a 6.9 percent increase in January-August period.
“Many developers will face lots of maturing debt by the end of this year, and there are perceived risks in the economy, so they will be more cautious,” Huang said.
China’s housing ministry is considering putting an end to the pre-sale system that developers use to secure capital quickly, in an effort to crack down on financial risks in the property sector.
China’s home prices held up well in August, defying property curbs. But analysts expect additional regulatory tightening and slowing economic growth will soon take the wind out of the property market’s sails.
The National Bureau of Statistics will release September official home price data on Saturday.