Butadiene rubber market trends in China
The butadiene rubber (BR) market has tracked a weak trend in 2019. The butadiene market turned lower amid a decline in feedstock butadiene prices and sluggish demand, although BR prices once rose sharply in September. There were growing concerns that prices would drop further due to oversupply of BR.
Over the recent years, BR production in China has grown rapidly and the production accounted for one-third of the global BR production. In China, from 2016 to 2017, the new BR production facility at Yanta haopu (production capacity of 60,000tons/year) commenced operations. In addition, Yangzi Petrochemical (production capacity of 100,000tons/year) and Jinzhou Petrochemical (production capacity 30,000tons/year) restarted their BR facilities. However, the production capacity of BR has not changed significantly in China as the facility of Shanghai Gaoqiao (production capacity 120,000tons/year) was closed and Huayu Rubber (production capacity 80,000tons/year) BR equipment was converted to one styrene-butadiene rubber (SBS) unit. The annual production capacity of BR in China was about 1.61 mil tons as of the end of 2018. There were not many plans for new constructions of BR facilities in China due to oversupply. From 2019 to 2021, Sichuan Petrochemical (production capacity 50,000tons/year), Jiutai (production capacity 80,000 tons/year), and Maoming Petrochemical (production capacity 100,000 tons/year) in China alone had new start-up plans.
China still depends on imports for high-grade BR products. The production capacity in China is able to meet domestic demand, but domestic BR production is centered on general grades amid a lack of production capacity for high-grade products.
Demand for tires has declined in recent years as the growth of the automobile industry has gradually slowed down. In addition, requirements for the quality of tires have increased. In particular, demands for safety, economics, and environmental protection were becoming stricter. Because of these factors, BR producers were needed to expand their production and research and development of rare earth rubber, in a bid to increase demand for green and high- performance tires.