Growing worldwide demand for lighter and cleaner petroleum products will be met through refining capacity increases in the rapid-growth areas of Asia-Pacific, South America, and the Middle East.
Despite continued increases in world demand for refined products, however, the Asian financial crisis has diminished demand in the region, which has resulted in an excess of gasoline production capacity that is expected to continue through the next decade (see chart). These were among the findings of a recent study by SRI International unit SRI Consulting, Menlo Park, Calif.
"The rapid refining expansion in Asia-Pacific will ease that region's reliance on imports in the short term," said SRI. "Although each country is attempting to become self-sufficient, imbalances will persist as refiners-especially those in Asia-Pacific-expand their gasoline production capability faster than domestic demand, which has been lower than expected."
SRI expects this imbalance to continue through 2010, with some refiners likely to have to reduce the operating rates of their gasoline processing units until demand rises again.
"Excess gasoline production and inadequate petrochemical feedstock supplies in Asia-Pacific will lead to increasing reliance on naphtha imports," says SRI. In 1995, Middle Eastern exports accounted for 40% of the worldwide trade of naphtha. These volumes are expected to reach 55% by 2005, says SRI.