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Global and China Needle Coke Industry Analysis 2012-2015

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Needle coke mainly finds application in graphite electrode for electric steelmaking and in areas of lithium battery, nuclear power, aerospace, etc. Since 2009, the global demand for needle coke has shoot up in the wake of the gradual recovery in the industrial downstream. During the same period, the world’s industrial magnates have taken no actions to expand their capacities in a massive scale, out of consideration for holding precedence in prices, leading to lingeringly strained supply all over the world with the supply-demand gap in 2012 hitting 100,000 tons. In particular, China was the most distinctive with the short supply gapping 120,000 tons among the world’s leading needle coke consumers.

As the largest steel producer in the world, China has been maintaining huge demand for needle cokes. Moreover, ultra-high power graphite electrode is occupying increasing proportion as a result of continuously optimizing product structure in the graphite electrode industry, which, in turn, further fuels the demand for needle cokes. At the same time, China has smaller amount of needle coke enterprises which feature weak technological base and are huddled by the uncertainty of stable production and product quality. Thus, the needle coke capacity in China has seen slow growth with the supply gap increasingly widening. In 2009-2012, China’s demand for needle coke soared from 161,000 tons to 360,000 tons with the CAGR of 30.8% while the annual capacity surged from 130,000 tons to 240,000 tons with the CAGR of 22.7%. Given that most new industrial players encounter technical huddles and that industrial veterans witness limited capacity growth, the supply shortage is projected to go on in the upcoming two years.

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As China is rich in coal and poor in oil, the supply of coal-based needle coke raw materials is abundant and China is technologically advanced in this regard. Nationwide, the existing needle coke capacity and most of planned and ongoing needle coke capacities are coal based needle cokes rather than oil-based needle cokes. Presently, large-sized ultra-high power graphite electrode products have become the mainstream in the graphite electrode industry. Because of its unique properties, oil-based needle cokes are ideal to make large-sized ultra-high power graphite electrode products. Hence, China needle coke market is witnessing structural imbalance between supply and demand.

Internationally, oil-based needle coke production technology is dominated by the US, Britain and Japan while the coal-based needle coke production technology is monopolized by Japan. ConocoPhillips, the world’s biggest producer of oil-based needle coke, realizes the needle coke capacity of 370,000 tons/a and the figure keeps stable in recent years. And the tycoon serves as one of benchmark makers when it comes to the oil-based needle coke prices globally.

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Seadrift is the world’s second largest oil-based needle coke maker with the capacity recording 150,000 tons/a. In 2012, it was taken over by GTI, America’s largest graphite electrode manufacturer. According to GTI planning, the long-term capacity of the company will reach 240,000-25,000 tons/a.

C-Chem is a professional carbon product maker under Nippon Steel, and the world’s largest coal-based needle coke producer. In recent years, its needle coke capacity has greatly boosted through capacity expansion with the figure in 2012 soaring to 170,000 tons/a.

Shanxi Hongte Coal Chemical Industry is a coal-based needle coke enterprise in China, the first realized commercial production. In response to domestically robust demand, the company began its 100,000-ton coal-based needle coke project in 2008 which was put into operation in 2012 with the current capacity of 150, 000tons/a.

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In Jun., 2011, the bidding of SINO Steel Anshan Research Institute of Thermal Energy’s second phase of needle coke project drew the curtain. According to real market demand, the company adjusted the capacity of the second phase to 120,000 tons/a. Meanwhile, the feasibility study and environmental assessment of the second phase had been done in 2012. And it is estimated to be put into production in 2014.

The 6-chapter report conducts an in-depth analysis on the development background and market pattern of global and China needle coke industry, highlights the business performance of 16 large industrial players at home and abroad, and predicts the development trend of the industry.

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