Europe petchem producers need to target niche markets – Spolchemie

27 March 2012 16:11  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--In the longer term European petrochemical producers will need to specialise in niche markets and speciality chemicals manufactured to the individual needs of consumers, said Spolchemie speciality resins business director Tomas Loubal on Tuesday.

“Tailor-made products are the future. This way we can build long-term relationships with our customers because they will not be able to switch suppliers as easily as they would if they purchased base resins,” Loubal said on the sidelines of the JEC Composites conference in Paris.

Spolchemie, based at Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic, produces epichlorohydrin (ECH), bisphenol A (BPA) and solid epoxy resins (SER) and liquid epoxy resins (LER).

The company produces most of its ECH and epoxy resins using renewable raw materials, such as glycerine. Because the plant is completely backward integrated, it is much more environmentally friendly than other non-integrated producers, said Loubal.

“We have cut transport and production costs and also reduced our CO2 emissions because all our production is in one site, which reduces the need to haul material between plants,” Loubal added.

The company’s short-term strategy is to increase its market share in Europe and to look at ways to improve productivity and become more competitive.

This may be helped by epoxy resins producer Momentive Specialty Chemicals’ plan to close a 25,000 tonne/year SER plant in Wesseling, Germany, by October, which will provide companies such as Spolchemie with opportunities to expand in the region.

Spolchemie has a nameplate capacity of 60,000 tonnes/year of LER and 25,000 tonnes/year of SER.

The turbulence in the market since 2008–2009 has affected Spolchemie and Loubal said it had become increasingly difficult to make predictions and forecast supply and demand.

“The market has been moving up and down like a rollercoaster, so it is extremely difficult to predict what is going to happen, but I believe that if we are able to react swiftly and if we are flexible, we can turn the current situation to our advantage,” Loubal added.

By: Janos Gal
+44 208 652 3214

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