MRC Global InSight

Asia Pacific

Trade tensions between China and the U.S. have begun to impact the Chinese economy as exports to the U.S. fell by 4.4% in Q4 2018. Total imports have also been impacted by 7.3% and further indicate a slowdown in the Chinese economy. This is significant because China is the largest economy by far in the entire Asia Pacific region.


Trade tensions between China and the U.S. have begun to impact the Chinese economy...


Chinese demand for natural resources drives the economy in many neighboring Asia Pacific countries especially in the Australian mining sector. After a period of decline, the recent stability in demand (and, therefore, pricing) of raw materials is symptomatic of China continuing to increase imports in spite of its own economy slowing down overall. This is due to government output restrictions on many aging processing plants, which are large contributors to pollution, and subsequent new investments in green field processing plants that are more efficient. The trend is also to build new plants with much greater capacity.

In late 2018, Australia became the world’s largest exporter of LNG, reaching over 6 million tons per month in Q4 2018. The Australian LNG plants have entered into the operating phase following the construction boom of the last decade. The main driver of increased demand for Australian LNG has been the Japanese economy, following the disaster at Fukushima and the subsequent review of Japanese energy supply.

The Thailand Energy Ministry announced the result of its bidding for concessions in the Gulf of Thailand in 2018. PTT, the state-owned energy company has been awarded operating rights to the Erawan field, which had been operated by Chevron since 1962. Thailand remains a strong downstream market and is home to the Map Ta Phut complex in Rayong, which is the eighth largest chemical complex in the world.


Thailand remains a strong downstream market...


Korean shipyard activity has remained subdued as upstream demand has not returned to 2014 levels after sustained low oil prices. Planned FPSO production has largely moved to China, however, Korean shipyards are bidding on over $25 billion of LNG ship production in 2019 as global demand for LNG increases.


Korean shipyard activity has remained subdued as upstream demand has not returned to 2014 levels...


ExxonMobil has announced big expansion plans in Singapore at their Jurong Island facilities. Following the acquisition of the Jurong Aromatics Company in 2017, XOM has developed a large expansion and upgrade for the combined complex, which is expected to be at full capacity by 2023.