Petrochemicals are becoming the largest drivers of global oil demand, in front of cars, planes and trucks, according to a major study by the International Energy Agency. Petrochemicals are set to account for more than a third of the growth in world oil demand to 2030, and nearly half the growth to 2050, adding nearly 7 million barrels of oil a day by then. They are also poised to consume an additional 56 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas by 2030, and 83 bcm by 2050.
Demand for plastics – the key driver for petrochemicals from an energy perspective – has outpaced all other bulk materials (such as steel, aluminum or cement), nearly doubling since 2000. Advanced economies currently use up to 20 times more plastic and up to 10 times more fertilizer than developing economies on a per capita basis, underscoring the huge potential for global growth.