The positive long-term outlook for petrochemicals
The demand is closely related to GDP and population growth
- World population is increasing rapidly, growing by another billion people by 2030 from the current base of about 7.6 billion. By 2050, the overall population is expected to reach close to 10 billion. Asia and Africa will be contributing a large portion of that growth.
- Long-term GDP growth is expected to be in the range between 3 to 4% average annual rate.
- Urbanization in Asia and Africa will continue, therefore contributing to the demand growth
Energy dynamics have always impacted the competitiveness of the petrochemicals industry as feedstock plays a major role in the cost of production.
- Long-term oil projection scenarios project a wide range from 65 million barrels per day to as much as 120 million barrels per day.  2019 crude oil demand was nearly 100 million barrels per day.
- Emerging and developing economies are projected to add more than 8,000 TWh of renewable power generation by 2040. Solar PV is likely to be the largest share of this growth followed by hydro and wind.
- Conventional fossil fuel transportation demand is flattening and demand for electric vehicles is expected to contribute towards most of the growth projections
- Natural gas demand is expected to increase significantly by 2040. Emerging and developing economies will likely add more than 900 bcm to the demand. 
Sustainability, circularity, and environment
- Greater push from consumers and bulk end users for plastic recycling. Plastic recycling is expected to double by 2040 from current levels – including chemical, mechanical, and bio recycling depending on the type of plastic waste/collection logistics.
- Regulations related to single-use plastics, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.
- Net zero approaches in line with Paris Agreement (IPCC scenarios) – using multiple technologies and approaches to achieve across-the-board emission cuts
It is one of the more complex areas to predict with far-reaching impact on the economies, trade, supply chains, investments, etc.
- Energy dynamics in recent times put a sharp focus on the approach to the energy security of nations
- Growing nationalism and protectionism are resulting in a shift away from international cooperation and economic globalization that contributed to human health, wealth, and quality of life over the last 40 years (more so since World War II).
- Cyber-security, information, and data security in weakening global security structures
Some risks and opportunities are posing challenges requiring more international cooperation.
- Pandemics – like COVID-19, resulting in a significant slowdown in economic activity globally and supply chain disruptions.
- As the world population grows, essential resources like water and food can become scarce (in combination with the impact of climate-related events)
- Extreme climatic events that can have a far-reaching and significant impact
At Apex PetroConsultants, we look forward to a healthy dialogue for helping our industry to make positive contributions and grow.
 UN DESA forecast
 IMF, World Bank, and other industry publications
 IEA scenarios
 IEA outlook
 Blogs and publications by the author, multiple industry news and publications
 WEF, IMF, CEFIC, and other industry sources and publications