Saturday, November 03, 2007

Where is the money in petrochemicals?

Less than 3 percent of a barrel of oil is used as a raw material for producing petrochemicals and plastics. Yet, this low volume represents 18 percent of the total net profits derived from each barrel.

Either petroleum naphtha and/or natural gas are cracked to produce six basic petrochemical building blocks, namely, aliphatics, consisting of:

  • ethylene
  • propylene
  • butylene
  • and aromatics, consisting of:
  • benzene
  • toluene
  • xylene.
Almost all of the other petrochemicals and plastics are produced as derivatives of these six basic chemicals as well as ammonia and chlorine.

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