Specialty chems in Europe impossible without commodities: Arkema

04 March 2014 12:30 Source:ICIS News

PARIS (ICIS)--A specialty chemicals market in Europe would be “impossible” to maintain in the absence of upstream commodity chemicals despite the dwindling competitiveness of basic chemicals production in the region, said the head of France-based chemicals producer Arkema, Thierry Le Henaff, on Tuesday.

Europe has the highest energy costs in the world, meaning that commodity chemicals are less competitive to produce there than almost anywhere else.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) executive director Geert Dancet predicted last year a decline in basic chemicals production in the EU due to the difficulty in maintaining margins in the face of cheaper product from other regions and the cost of regulatory compliance.

However, it will not be possible for Europe to preserve its advantage of innovation and refinement of specialty chemicals in the absence of the rest of the chemicals value chain, as commodities are integral to the research of higher-value

“As far as we’re concerned, you cannot keep research in specialties if you do not have access to petrochemicals, you need suitable infrastructure,” said Arkema CEO.

"It is a mistake to think you can maintain specialty chemicals if you have no upstream chemistry. You can’t find that anywhere, it’s impossible,” he added.

By Tom Brown