29 September 2008 17:03 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nigel Davis
MONTE CARLO (ICIS news)--They are old themes but they have a new twist.
Energy and feedstock availability and cost, the sector pipeline network, the important production locations and, of course, the image of chemicals and plastics all continue to occupy the minds of those most deeply involved with petrochemicals.
Greater integration is not simply nice to have in ?xml:namespace>
How will different producers in different locations then garner the enthusiasm and the support to ensure that the sector’s ethylene and propylene pipeline network is extended?
Sector executives have to continue to lobby long and hard for a more level energy playing field. Energy protectionism in
At the same time, however, the region is bordered by nations with considerable oil, and particularly, gas potential.
Players in Europe know they can benefit probably in the longer rather than the shorter term by access to feedstocks from places such as
Feedstock and energy access, proximity to markets and pipeline integration are all vitally important pieces in a jigsaw that is becoming better understood.
But a valid question is still whether the petrochemicals sector won its battle with the politicians that not too long ago considered it to be a dead duck.
“We had to fight a view that
Yet, as he stressed, the chemical industry is highly integrated.
The link with the downstream speciality business that sometimes seems sexier, or at least more robust, is both intellectual and geographic.
It is nonsense to believe that the chemical industry will eventually simply consist of companies making speciality chemicals, he suggested.
That work finishes towards around the end of this year with a final report due to be published in February 2009.
The issues raised by the HLG place petrochemicals at the centre of the broader chemicals sector. Demonstrating the complexity of the chemicals business and the ways in which it is so highly integrated with the value chains expending from the well-head to the shopping mall has done the industry a lot of good.
The sector generally and chemicals companies individually now have to convince national governments that theirs is a business worth supporting.
The most intractable problems for the business remain, however.
Just how can petrochemicals players, and their counterparts in polymers, convince more people of the importance of plastics? And how can they best demonstrate that plastics pollution can be effectively challenged - most efficiently with more waste incineration.
In some respects, the great plastics debate has only just begun.
The public is concerned about plastics applications. Consumers are becoming more deeply concerned about plastics waste.
The chemicals and plastics industries have twin problems here: one of (product) acceptance and one of image. One goes along with the other, but not all the time.
Plastics makers can start to occupy more of the high ground - think about the plastics needed for better sanitation, better packaging, ultimately resource reduction. But they have to get their message across.
The image of plastics has been largely turned around in
A Europe-wide shift in public opinion is sought through further cooperation with the plastics trade group, Plastics Europe.
“Plastic is only 1% of total waste in
“The image of plastics should be our biggest concern because we run the risk of destroying our product by negligence and bad communication,” he added.
Plastics largely represent the public face of petrochemicals. Get that image right and a great deal more falls into place for the petrochemicals maker.
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