26 July 2010 16:29 [Source: ICIS news]
PRAGUE (ICIS news)--Central and eastern Europe's (CEE’s) petrochemical companies must meet the challenge of switching to the production of value-added niche products as Middle Eastern producers intensify competition in commodity petrochemicals over the next two years, Raiffeisen Centrobank said on Monday.
Several low-cost petrochemical plants coming online in the region would soon be competing with their older, smaller, less cost-efficient commodity-grade polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plants, Chladek said.
“Orlen and also Unipetrol's mid-term strategy is to focus on value-added niche petchem products that require technological know-how and experience and a close relationship with the customer because these products are often tailor-made to the specific requirements of local customers,” Chladek said. “We believe that in this field, Middle Eastern producers, such as the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and Borouge, will not be able to compete.”
So far, Orlen's pursuit of niche markets has seen it move into purified terephthalic acid (PTA) — its new 600,000 tonne/year plant in Wloclawek, Poland, the feedstock for which will be provided by an adjacent 400,000 tonne/year paraxylene (PX) unit, should start up in the second half of this year — partly to address surging local demand for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, said Chladek.
Unipetrol, meanwhile, in June opened a 120,000 tonne/year butadiene unit with Polish JV partner Synthos at Kralupy nad Vltavou in the Czech Republic, he added. Synthos would use its output to capitalise on tyre manufacturers' demand for high-performance neodymium-polybutadiene rubber (Nd-PBR).
“I expect an update on further [niche] projects from Orlen and Unipetrol during the remainder of 2010,” Chladek said.
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