CO2 from plastics and petrochemical facilities?

This data-file aims to quantify the CO2 intensity of producing plastics, across the entire value chain from oil and gas inputs, to cracking, polymerisation, extrusion and end-of-life treatment.

Granular data are tabulated on 70 chemicals facilities around the US. Most facilities are not directly comparable. However, we have derived meaningful CO2 intensity data (per ton of product) for c20 of them. We find large and integrated petchem facilities tend to be more efficient (chart below)Beneficial energy economics for plastics are confirmed in the work. For example, our numbers suggest the CO2 emissions for a single-use plastic bottle would be c90% lower than a single-use glass bottle. Numbers could be further improved by next-generation technologies turning plastic back into oil.


The Top 25 Companies in Plastics Pyrolysis?

This data-file assesses the outlook for 25 plastic pyrolysis companies, operating  (or constructing) 100 plants around the world, which use chemical processes to turn waste plastics back into oil.

Our data-file includes the number of plants, locations, start-up years, input-types and capacities for each plant. We also include our own notes, our assessment’s of each company’s technology.

The data-file has been updated in 1Q20, revising our rankings, and adsding an assessment of 2019’s pace of newsflow. It is extremely encouraging to see Super-Majors entering the fray (Shell, TOTAL, BP), as well as strong progress from the leading companies.

Value in Use: CO2 intensities of household items?

We estimate costs and carbon intensities per use for twenty low-utilisation household objects: the average is $13 per use and 1.3kg of CO2, respectively. Both are high numbers.

The biggest determinant is the number of uses per item.  We fear that once purchased by a consumer, the average item on our list will be used just c20 times in its entire lifetime.

More extensive “sharing” will be enabled by drone delivery technologies, potentially saving $150bn of annual sales and 15MTpa of CO2 emissions across these 20 items items alone. Across the entire US economy the savings could reach $1trn and 100MT per year.

Long-Run Oil Demand Model

This Excel model calculates long-run oil demand to 2050, end-use by end-use, year-by-year, region-by-region; across the US, the OECD and the non-OECD. Underlying workings are shown in seven subsequent tabs.

The model runs off 25 input variables, such as GDP growth, electric vehicle penetration and oil-to-gas switching. You can flex these input assumptions, in order to run your own scenarios.

Our scenario foresees a plateau at c103Mbpd in the 2020s, followed by a gradual decline to below 90Mbpd in 2050. This reflects 7 major technology themes, which we assess in depth, in our recent deep-dive report.

Without delivering these technology themes, demand would most likely keep growing to 130Mbpd by 2050, due to global population growth and greater economic development in the emerging world.

Make CO2 into valuable products?

This data-file is a screen of 25 companies, which are turning CO2 into valuable products, such as next-generation plastics, foams, concretes, specialty chemicals and agricultural products.

For each company, we have assessed the commercial potential, technical readiness, partners, size, geography and other key parameters. 10 companies have very strong commercial potential. 8 concepts are technically ready,  5 are near-commercial, while 12 are earlier-stage.

The featured companies include c20 start-ups. But leading listed companies include BP (as a venture partner), Chevron Phillips, Covestro, Repsol, Shell (as a venture partner) and Saudi Aramco.

TOTAL’s Plastic-Recycling Progress?

TOTAL is currently pioneering the greatest advances in plastic-recycling technologies among the Majors, based on our database of 3,000 patents.

This data-file covers the comprehensive mixing of chromium-catalysed polyethylene, to reduce defects and increase the strength of post-consumer resins. In turn, this extends their use to films, containers and pipes.

Four different measures of defect rates are correlated with four different extrusion methodologies.

The file also includes a summary of TOTAL’s plastic recycling patents. Overall it should be possible to uplift plastic recycling margins by $50-100/ton.

We remain most excited, however, by plastic pyrolysis, being pioneered by smaller companies, to turn plastic back into oil.

Oil Companies Drive the Energy Transition?

There is only one way to decarbonise the energy system: leading companies must find economic opportunities in better technologies. No other route can source sufficient capital to re-shape such a vast industry that spends c$2trn per annum. We outline seven game-changing opportunities. Leading energy Majors are already pursuing them in their portfolios, patents and venturing. Others must follow suit.

Turn the Plastic Back into Oil

Due to the limitations of mechanical recycling, 85% of the world’s plastic is incinerated, dumped into landfill, or worst of all, ends up in the oceans. An alternative, plastic pyrolysis, is on the cusp of commercialisation. We have assessed twenty technology solutions. This nascent opportunity can turn plastic back into oil, generate >30% IRRs on investment, and could displace 15Mbpd of future oil demand.

Plastic pyrolysis delivers strong economics?

>30% IRRs should be attainable converting waste-plastic back into oil, based on disclosures from technology-leaders in the sector. This economic model allows for stress-testing of product prices, input costs, gate fees, capex, opex, utilisation and fiscal regimes.

How could plastic-recycling technology impact oil demand?

We see potential for plastic-recycling technologies to displace 15Mbpd of potential oil demand growth (i.e., naphtha, LPGs and ethane) by 2060, compared to a business-as-usual scenario of demand growth. In a more extreme case, oil demand for conventional plastics could halve. This simple model allows you to vary the input assumptions and derive your own outputs.