EU policy must help preserve and grow Europe’s petchems position

12 March 2014 11:18  [Source: ICIS news]

MADRID (ICIS)--While European petrochemical producers are already doing what they can to maximise competitiveness amid an ever-changing global landscape,  regulation over the past few years has done little to foster industrial growth, Thys Siermann, Business Director Olefins at Dow said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the 9th ICIS World Olefins conference in Madrid, Siermann said that policies such as Reach, ETS (Emission Trading Scheme) and IED (Industrial Emission Directive) were putting Europe at a disadvantage as these policies were not being implemented or adopted elsewhere and that this was “adding cost and complexity.”

A change is needed, Siermann said, likening the European petrochemical industry to a “house of cards” with so much – such as employment for example –  initimately connected from crackers through various derivative chains through to end-users. This mirrored recent comments from others in the industry, notably Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS CEO.

European producers have already been adjusting “input, process and output” in order to manage the pressures coming from heightened global competition. In the last couple of years there have been several annnouncements either of cracker closures or downsizing of capacities.

Siermann outlined four ways in which EU policy could help support Europe’s position.

First, having an energy and climate policy that prevents carbon leakage.

“Basically industry just moves elsewhere, [it’s the idea of] let’s make Europe clean by making the rest of the world dirty…this is not clever,” he said.

Second, by promoting responsible extraction of shale gas and liquids.

Having policies that promote innovation and education, and trade policies that prevent intra-European competitive disadvantage are also key, he said.

Having a supportive regulatory landscape would not prevent restructuring based on changes in global dynamics, for example the much-talked shale gas wave, “but we shouldn’t be seeing undue restructuring on the basis of EU policy.”

“Europe still has a role,” Siermann said.

The one-day 9th ICIS World Olefins conference takes place on 12 March.

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By: Nel Weddle
+44 20 8652 3214

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