A new age for the Italian chemical industry

23 April 2012 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Polimeri Europa is entering a historic period of change, a transition that will see the largest petrochemical producer in Italy - and one of Europe's biggest players - strengthen itself for the future.

With a new name, new identity and new focus, the company is repositioning itself as a more international, efficient and sustainable producer in a global, greener chemical sector.

Porto Torres 

The new Porto Torres site includes a third generation bio-refinery

CEO Daniele Ferrari says its identity no longer reflected the vision for the future. The company was originally named Polimeri Europa in 1995, arising from a joint venture between Enichem and Union Carbide. From March 2012, it will be rebranded as versalis to signal the change.

"Europe is no longer our only focus," says Ferrari. "The new name will account for a tangible need for change and innovation; it reflects our new direction."

As a more market-focused business, the new entity centers around four core segments: styrenics, elastomers, polyethylene (PE) and intermediates. There will also be an increased emphasis on licensing and innovation, to help improve the company's presence in emerging markets worldwide.

"We are aligning the business units and re-organising our research and development, as well as our technologies. We are doing what makes sense in a chemical industry that wants to be competitive and international today."

Matrica, a 50:50 joint venture with Italy's Novamont, is set to revolutionize the production of bio-based materials and ensure a greener, more sustainable future for both companies.

The €500m ($670m) project consists of seven new plants and a research center at the Porto Torres complex in Sardinia. All existing production at the site will be converted from traditional fossil fuels to an integrated production chain from vegetable oil using oleaginous seeds to bio-plastics.

When complete within the next six years, it will include 350,000 tonnes/year of bio-based capacity. Versalis intends to capitalize on the synergies both in terms of production and commercial opportunities between Matrica and its other sites, says CEO Daniele Ferrari.

The first stage of the project includes the construction of a bio-refinery and a bio-lubricants facility, with another plant built in the second phase that produces bio-additives and bio-fillers for the rubber industry. Finally, the project will see larger lines introduced and a downstream plant to produce bio-plastics.

In February, Ferrari and Catia Bastiolli, CEO of Novamont, attended the inauguration of the new 700m2 Green Chemistry Research Centre and the unveiling of the logo for the Matrica project. There are plans to expand the centre to 3,500m2, when it will also be home to several pilot plants.

Next article - Elastomers focus

By: Andy Brice
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