Needle Coke Market – Snapshot

Needle coke is a highly crystalline coke primarily used for the production of graphite electrodes for EAF steel. Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) decant oil is used as a starting material in the production of petroleum derived needle coke. It contains about 0.02% to 0.04% by weight of ash.  FCC catalyst increases the thermal expansion characteristics of a resulting electrode, thereby necessitating the removal of the catalyst for the production of low CTE graphite electrodes from petroleum needle coke. Coal tar is obtained as a byproduct during the coking process of low ash metallurgical coke. Coal tar pitch is obtained through distillation, which involves the conversion of coal tar into a variety of intermediate chemicals.

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In terms of value, the global needle coke market is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of more than 4.0% from 2018 to 2026 and reach US$ 5.18 Bn by 2026. The global needle coke market has been segmented based on type, grade, and application. Based on type, the global needle coke market has been bifurcated into petroleum derived and coal tar pitch derived. Demand for petroleum-based needle coke is high despite the existence of a handful of suppliers globally. China is a major producer of coal tar pitch needle coke. Based on grade, the global needle coke market has been segregated into intermediate, premium, and super premium. The super premium segment is expected to exhibit significant growth rate during the forecast period. Based on application, the global needle coke market has been classified into graphite electrode, lithium-ion batteries, and others. Needle coke is used extensively in the production of graphite electrodes. The graphite electrode segment accounted for significant share of the needle coke market in 2017. It is likely to remain a dominant segment during the forecast period. However, the lithium-ion batteries segment is anticipated to expand at a rapid pace in terms of value and volume between 2018 and 2026.

Needle coke is a major raw material required for the manufacture of graphite electrodes and lithium-ion batteries. Currently, the prices of needle coke are increasing due to the shortage of supply. Its availability is affected not only by environmental restrictions in China, but also due to the rising demand from alternative uses such as lithium-ion batteries (used for electric cars). Approximately 10% of global needle coke production is being used in the rapidly expanding lithium-ion battery sector. Production of needle coke in the U.S. was disrupted recently by Hurricane Harvey, which caused Graftech; the major needle coke manufacturer through its subsidiary company Seadrift Coke to declare force majeure. The shortage of needle coke globally is hampering the supply of graphite electrodes. Additionally, maintenance shutdown schedule of some large refineries has affected the availability of needle coke. Expansion in the electric vehicle industry is estimated to boost the demand for needle coke. A few manufacturers of needle coke (around 15-16) operate at the global level. They account for 90% to 95% of the global production of needle coke. Implementation of stringent environmental regulations over the manufacturing of needle coke is anticipated to hamper the needle coke market in the near future.

China has restarted coal-based needle coke manufacturing plants. It plans to expand its capacity due to the sudden increase in demand from graphite electrode and lithium-ion battery manufacturers. Companies such as Baotailong, Shanxi Hongte, and Shandong Jingyang announced plans to increase their needle coke production capacity by 16% by the end of 2018. China-based manufacturers are likely to expand their production capacities by more than 60% by the end of 2020.

Asia Pacific dominated the needle coke market with more than 60% share in 2017. It was followed by Europe and North America. China constituted key share of the needle coke market in terms of volume and revenue in 2017. It is likely to remain dominant during the forecast period across all regions. Presence of leading graphite electrode manufacturers and increase in demand for lithium-ion batteries in the country are driving the demand for needle coke in China. The needle coke market in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific is expected to expand at a high CAGR during the forecast period. The needle coke market in Latin America and Middle East & Africa is projected to expand at a sluggish pace during the forecast period.

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The report comprises profiles of major companies operating in the global needle coke market. Key players operating in the needle coke market include Phillips 66, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, JXTG Holdings, Inc., Baotailong New Material Co., Ltd., Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Bao-steel Group, C-Chem CO., LTD., Seadrift Coke LP, Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company Limited, Shanxi Hongte Coal Chemical Co Ltd., Sinosteel Anshan Research Institute of Thermo-Energy Co., Ltd., Petrochina International Jinzhou Petrochemical Co., Ltd., Shijiazhuang Deli Chemical Co., Petroleum Coke Industries Co. (K.S.C), Petrocokes Japan Ltd., and FangDa Carbon New Material Co. Ltd.

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