Europe petrochemical market still has a future - consultant

23 November 2010 12:16  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--The European petrochemical market still has a future despite strong growth and investment in the Middle East and Asia, as long as the industry considers its options carefully, a consultant said on Tuesday.

Ralf Kuhlmann, from Dr Kuhlmann International, was giving a speech at the 9th European Aromatics & Derivative Conference in Berlin, Germany.

He said: “The European petrochemical market is a very important part of the overall economy.

"In 2009 it turned over €566bn ($775bn) and employed 1.2m people worldwide, representing 30% of global chemical demand.

Europe is still 30% of global production, but the drivers are constantly changing, with long-term sustainability and the green economy of highest importance. Europe can’t just generate value in only services – just look at Ireland. Manufacturing in Europe needs to be taken seriously."

Kuhlmann said that in order for Europe to remain competitive against its global neighbours, producers needed to focus on five key drivers. They needed to run at the lowest cost, support innovation, be more imaginative, support associations and implement best practice.

“Plants need to be run economically and at a technical minimum since this is what Europe needs,” he said.

Kuhlmann said plants needed to high-energy efficient, effect and have high yields and conversion rates, and have flexible feedstock utilisation.

Besides best-operating practices, Kuhlmann also spoke about the flexible advantage that smaller European units have against world-scale plants, as well as offering customers multiple and advanced-quality grades of petrochemicals to less flexible ones in order to stay competitive.

He added: “Our business requires more commercial deals and the role of trading companies needs to increase to manage incremental volumes more efficiently.”

During his speech, Kuhlmann also spoke about the “environmental cost burden” and how supporting associations enabled the industry to manage and understand more clearly new legislation that needed to be covered.

In his summary, Kuhlmann said that the European petrochemical industry had a very strong and critical part to play in society.

“To have strong opportunities, it can only be possible if we talk about how we can improve our smaller units and make them more effective so that, long term, Europe will continue to capture global demand and stay competitive,” he said.

The 9th European Aromatics and Derivatives Conference takes place in Berlin, Germany, on 23-24 November 2010.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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