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.

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

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.

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.

Needle Coke Market - Overview

Needle coke is a high grade, high value, petroleum or coal-based coke. It is primarily employed in the manufacture of graphite electrodes of very low coefficient of thermal expansion for electric arc furnaces in the steel industry.

In terms of type, the petroleum derived segment accounted for more than 60% share of the market in 2017. The market share of the petroleum derived segment is expected to decline by the end of the forecast period due to the increase in production capacities of China-based needle coke manufacturers. Most manufacturers in China produce coal tar pitch based needle coke. In terms of grade, the super premium segment is anticipated to exhibit significant growth rate during the forecast period. The super premium grade has the lowest coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), which makes it more suitable for the production of high grade graphite electrodes. In terms of application, the graphite electrode segment held major share of the market in 2017. This trend is likely to continue throughout the forecast period. However, lithium ion batteries application segment is projected to expand at a rapid CAGR between 2018 and 2026 owing to its high demand.

Asia Pacific held a significant share of the market in 2017 in terms of value and volume. China is highly lucrative country of the needle coke market in Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific is expected to continue its dominance throughout the forecast period. The market in Europe is likely to expand at a significant pace in the near future.

This report analyzes and Forecast the market for needle coke at the global and regional level. The market has been forecast based on revenue (US$ Mn) and volume (kilo tons) from 2017 to 2026, considering 2017 as the base year. The report also includes historical data from 2012 to 2016. The study includes drivers and restraints of the global needle coke market. It also covers impact of these drivers and restraints on demand for needle coke during the forecast period. The report also highlights opportunities in the needle coke market at the global and regional level. The report provides different types of needle coke manufactured by each company by grade. It also provides the list of potential customers for needle coke based on application.

The report includes detailed value chain analysis, which provides a comprehensive view of the global needle coke market. Porter’s Five Forces model for the needle coke market has also been included to help understand the competitive landscape. The study encompasses market attractiveness analysis, wherein type, grade, and application are benchmarked based on their market size, growth rate, and general attractiveness. The study also includes pricing analysis based on type, region, and key players.

The study provides a decisive view of the global needle coke market by segmenting it in terms of type, grade and application. In terms of product type, the needle coke market has been classified into petroleum derived and coal tar pitch derived. In terms of grade, the needle coke market has been segregated into intermediate, premium, and super premium. In terms of application, the needle coke market has been divided into graphite electrode, lithium ion batteries, and others. These segments have been analyzed based on present and future trends. Regional segmentation includes current and forecast demand for needle coke in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa.

The report provides the historical market size from 2012 to 2016 and actual market size of needle coke for 2017 and estimated market size for 2018 with forecast for the next eight years. The global needle coke market has been provided in terms of revenue in US$ Mn and in terms of volume in kilo tons. Market size has been provided in terms of global, regional, and country level market.

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.

Needle Coke Market, by Type

  • Petroleum Derived
  • Coal Tar Pitch Derived

Needle Coke Market, by Grade

  • Intermediate
  • Premium
  • Super Premium

Needle Coke Market, by Application

  • Graphite Electrode
  • Lithium Ion Batteries
  • Others (Specialty Carbon, etc.)

Needle Coke Market, by Region Analysis

  • North America
    • U.S.
    • Canada
  • Europe
    • Germany
    • France
    • U.K.
    • Spain
    • Italy
    • Russia & CIS
    • Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific
    • China
    • India
    • Japan
    • ASEAN
    • Rest Of Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
    • Brazil
    • Mexico
    • Rest of Latin America
  • Middle East & Africa (MEA)
    • GCC
    • South Africa
    • Rest of MEA

Key Takeaways

  • The coal tar pitch segment is anticipated to expand at a significant CAGR during the forecast period .This is due to the resumption of coal tar pitch based needle coke manufacturing units in China. These units had been shut down due to the environmental constraints and closure of graphite electrode production units during 2015 and 2016.
  • Most of the needle coke is utilized in the manufacture of graphite electrodes. These electrodes are employed in new steel production and recycling of steel. Asia Pacific was a prominent manufacturer of steel in the world, as of May 2017.
  • Needle coke is employed to manufacture graphite anode material for lithium-ion batteries. Graphite anodes materials made from needle coke have ability in particle size reduction, improve process ability, improve chemical properties, increase density, improve first cycle efficiency, and offer ease of intercalation.
  • In terms of application, the graphite electrode segment accounted for more than 80% share of the needle coke market in 2017. The segment is likely to remain dominant during the forecast period.
  • Historical prices of needle coke were quite stable until December 2014. Prices started falling due to the low oil prices and oversupply of the product. Prices reached an all-time low by the end of 2016.