Opinion

Switching gears on olefins production?

How coal-to-olefins will affect global olefins markets

Kelly Cui

Senior Analyst, Petrochemicals

Kelly is an expert in the coal-to-olefins (CTO) and methanol-to-olefins (MTO) sector.

Latest articles by Kelly

View Kelly Cui's full profile

How can we help?

Contact us

How can we help?

In the past, China has seen rapid rises in both ethylene supply and demand. Its supply has been dominated by steam crackers, which accounted for 98% of total supply in 2010. Demand growth was robust at 7% between 2010 and 2016, but it’s developing much faster than supply.

To meet its increasing demand, China needs other sources, such as coal- and methanol-based olefins (CTO/MTO). This new technology makes use of China’s abundant coal reserves and domestic and imported methanol resources. Significantly, it also reduces China’s dependency on imports of olefins and their derivatives.

An overview of the coal-to-olefins production process

Understand how this emergent technology can be used to make ethylene, propylene and butadiene from coal.

In 2010, China started its first CTO unit in Inner Mongolia with DMTO technology. In the past six years, China’s CTO and MTO production capacity increased from 1% of the country’s total olefins production capacity to 17% by year-end 2016. By 2025, we expect this share to increase further to 29%.

Forecast for olefins production in China including coal and methanol based production

By 2025, we anticipate that coal and methanol based olefins production could account for as much as 30% of China's overall olefin production capacity

As China’s CTO and MTO aspirations continue, how economically competitive will they be?

How will they affect Chinese olefin prices? And how do they compare with other production routes globally?

Our China’s coal- and methanol-based olefins study delves into the intricate details and its effects on the global market.