Aromatics face challenges ahead

Chemical companies, Economic growth, Financial Events

Reichstag.pngAttendees had a fascinating two days at our annual European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference in Berlin this week. As always, it was co-organised with ICIS, and featured a strong list of speakers:

Sven Royall, VP at Shell Chemicals, put forward an optimistic outlook for benzene derivatives. He argued that substitution of PS by PP had plateaued, which should encourage styrene volumes, whilst EPS and polycarbonate should continue to do well.

Ralf Kuhlmann, formerly ExxonMobil Business Director, Hydrocarbons, argued that Europe still had a good future in petrochemicals, but needed to adapt its plants to cope with more volatility in market conditions. The ability to run profitably at lower operating rates would be a critical success factor in future.

Matt Chadwick, managing consultant with Wood Mackenzie, said the ‘golden age’ of refining had now passed, with Europe now likely to have an advantage over refineries in the USA due to its greater focus on diesel.

A number of speakers focused on the problems facing the styrene business:

Andrew Jones, Dow’s global business director for aromatics, explained how they had come to the decision to sell their styrene business, whilst Jeff Denton, VP feedstocks for Styron, highlighted the key strategies being implemented by the new company.
Piet Vermeersch, styrene business manager for TOTAL, explained that integration would be key for future styrene profitability, as current production economics were not sustainable.
Hans van der Kaaij, co-products director with LyondellBasell, argued that producers needed to take on more of an advocacy role with regulators.

In the C8 area, Gianluca Girardi, sales manager with Polimeri Europa, discussed the constraints involved in running the business in Italy. Alastair Hensman of Nexant put forward an optimistic overview of the global outlook for the polyester chain. Antonello Ciotti, commercial director of Equipolymers, outlined the issues with recycled PET and the need to work closely with the brand managers in consumer products companies.

Finally, Yu Jing of China’s National Planning Institute, discussed the major new aromatics capacities planned for the 2011-16 period, and said the government’s aim was to balance supply and demand, and to expand further into downstream derivatives. This clearly has major implications for current exporters to China.


Europe olefin operating rates remain at 82%


Attendees had a fascinating two days at our annual European Aromatics & Der...

Learn more

Weak gasoline creates benzene opportunity


Attendees had a fascinating two days at our annual European Aromatics & Der...

Learn more
More posts
Companies and investors have just 30 working days left to prepare for a No Deal Brexit

Companies across the UK and EU27 are suddenly realising there are now just 30 working days until the...

The BoE’s pre-emptive strike is not without risk

The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, arguing that it seems the default answer to ...

Flexible working is key to reversing today’s collapse in fertility rates

Women in most parts of the world are not having enough children to replace our population. This is o...

No Deal Brexit remains UK law unless MPs reverse their previous votes

“That couldn’t happen” are probably the 3 most dangerous words in the English lang...

CEOs need new business models amid downturn

Many indicators are now pointing towards a global downturn in the economy, along with paradigm shif...

Stock markets risk Wile E. Coyote fall despite Powell’s rush to support the S&P 500

How can companies and investors avoid losing money as the global economy goes into a China-led reces...

Chart of the Year – China’s shadow banking collapse means deflation may be round the corner

Last year it was Bitcoin, in 2016 it was the near-doubling in US 10-year interest rates, and in 2015...

BASF’s second profit warning highlights scale of the downturn now underway

The chemical industry is easily the best leading indicator for the global economy.  And thanks to K...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more