SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Kevin Jackson

News Feed Item

German and European Chemical Producers Expect Marginal Growth, But Face Headwinds Due to Increasing Competition, Feedstock Cost Disadvantages and Business Climate Pressures

With Germany taking a slight lead, Europe’s chemical industry is slowly exiting the global economic recession. However, despite expected marginal growth, concerns are mounting for industry leaders, who face increasing competition, feedstock cost disadvantages, a difficult business climate and aging infrastructure.

The outlook for the German and European chemical sectors will be among the key topics to be discussed on day two of the IHS Berlin Forum, hosted May 12-14, by IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight.

German chemical industry executives are concerned about the potential loss of business to more competitive regions, but, in general, they still have a slightly more optimistic outlook than the rest of European chemical operators, according to John Page, vice president of consulting at IHS Chemical. “This optimism is largely because the German economy is one of the strongest economies in the region,” he said. “Germany has a much larger and more robust manufacturing base than the rest of Europe, and their facilities are more up-to-date from a technology standpoint, than the rest of Europe. Most companies expect the German chemical business to pick up in the coming months, in part due to increasing domestic demand.

“IHS Chemical forecasts an overall increase in German chemical production of 2 percent for 2014, so we are talking about sluggish growth here, but it is growth,” Page said. “German chemical prices are likely to drop slightly, by about 0.5 percent, but we expect chemical sales to rise to €191 billion in 2014. Despite an expected increase in domestic demand for chemicals, however, very little is going to change in the foreseeable future regarding the German chemical exports.”

Germany, Page said, has historically exported capital goods around the world. To date, with strong demand for these goods in China and elsewhere, the German economy has held up based on these exports. However, going forward, the export outlook for Germany is not as strong. German exports to countries in Europe such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have declined due to these countries’ anemic economies.

While the European chemical industry continues to recover from a long and painful recession, it is doing so at a modest pace, and unlike German producers, not all other European chemical producers can expect much uptick in domestic demand to brighten their outlook, said IHS.

The European production of chemicals is likely to see a 1.5 percent increase in 2014 with a modest rise in exports. However, the industry still faces a bit of a competitive headwind as it endures higher costs than other, more competitive regions such as North America or the Mideast. These regions are leveraging the advantages of lower feedstock costs made possible by the region’s shale gas boom. Additionally, European chemical producers are increasingly facing a more stringent regulatory and tax environment. At the same time, the industry is saddled with an aging infrastructure that is quickly falling behind the technological curve and the advancements being adopted by other global competitors.

“Over time, the European chemical industry has seen a gradual change in its fortunes, with growing costs and a competitive market with many players,” said Michael Smith, vice president at IHS Chemical. “Faced with uncompetitive energy prices and stagnating demand, European chemical companies must adapt quickly or suffer the consequences,” he said. “They will face continued tough competition from Middle Eastern, Chinese and, increasingly, US producers benefiting from cheap energy and feedstocks.

“With an increased import pressure from the United States for vinyls and caustic soda, for example, some players will choose to exit the market in the mid-term,” Smith added. “Additionally, we expect the closure of some steam crackers in Europe as well as further merger and acquisition activity during the next five years as the industry readjusts to the less favorable market dynamics for much of its chemical products. This could bring some major change to the industry in Europe, but also globally in terms of joint ventures, such as the approved joint venture of the European chlor-vinyls businesses of INEOS and Solvay, which will improve the healthy competitiveness of the combined operations in Europe, but also place a major global player in the European market,” Smith said. “It is good to see that the European Commission’s proposed commitments are aimed at avoiding higher prices, which would negatively affect businesses and customers in Europe.”

Despite the regional challenges, some companies are making new investments that show signs of positive growth in the European and German chemical sectors. IHS ChemicalWeek reported 6 May 2014, that Dutch specialty chemical company AkzoNobel, held its official inauguration for a membrane-process chlorine plant at the Höchst industrial park near Frankfurt. The project involved an investment of €140 million and included conversion of a mercury-cell chlor-alkali facility and a capacity expansion of 50 percent — to 250,000 metric tons per year of chlorine and 275,000 metric tons per year of caustic soda. At a briefing for journalists before the ceremony, Ton Büchner, CEO, and Werner Fuhrmann, board member/specialty chemicals, put the investment into context and spoke about the company’s strategy. Büchner said that AkzoNobel is on course to meet its previously announced 2015 targets, which include a 9 percent return on sales and a 14 percent return on capital employed, to be achieved through restructuring, cost reduction and organic growth.

According to IHS Chemical forecasts, West European demand for chlorine will decline slightly. West European chlorine demand is expected to decrease to around 8.56 million metric tons (MTT) 2018 from 8.7 MTT in 2013, IHS Chemical said. Since not all of the producers will convert their production units from mercury to membrane technology, West European chlorine capacity will also decline, from 11 MTT in 2013 to 9.7 MTT in 2018. Chlorine is well known for its uses as a bleaching agent and disinfectant, but it is also essential in the manufacture of other chemicals, including polyvinyl chloride and for other plastics’ production.

On a global basis, however, chlorine demand is forecast to grow from 64.5 MTT in 2013 to 74.3 MTT by 2018, with Northeast Asia being of course the most dynamically growing region, IHS Chemical said.

In the case of caustic soda, between one and two million metric tons of production capacity in Europe could be lost by 2018, and the European vinyls business also is expected to undergo major changes, IHS Chemical said. The price of ethylene is expected to fall given weak downstream markets and decreasing oil prices, while ethylene demand in Europe is not expected to improve much in 2014. The situation is similar for propylene, noted IHS Chemical.

About IHS Forum

The IHS Berlin Forum is a gathering, hosted by IHS, that brings together executives from related industries, finance, government, and academia to gain insights, share expertise, and learn from IHS experts and industry thought leaders. The IHS Forum will examine key topics around a central theme—“Europe’s Global Competitiveness: Opportunities and Pathways,” with a particular focus on European economies, monetary policy, stabilizing labor markets and the European energy scene. The IHS Forum is part of an ongoing series of events to bring together leading insights and analysis to explore relevant issues with depth and breadth, making crucial connections across sectors.

Attendance & Registration

The IHS Forum, Berlin 2014 is being held at the InterContinental Hotel Berlin from 12-14 May. Further information and delegate registration is available at http://ihsglobalevents.com/forum/berlin2014/.

Media Accreditation

Members of the press can register for a complimentary pass to the IHS Forum in Berlin by sending an email with name, title and outlet details to [email protected].

Agenda

A full agenda and additional information can be found here: http://ihsglobalevents.com/forum/berlin2014/agenda/

About IHS (www.ihs.com)

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs more than 8,000 people in 31 countries around the world.

IHS is a registered trademark of IHS Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners. © 2014 IHS Inc. All rights reserved.

More Stories By Business Wire

Copyright © 2009 Business Wire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Business Wire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Business Wire. Business Wire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile ...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
Companies today struggle to manage the types and volume of data their customers and employees generate and use every day. With billions of requests daily, operational consistency can be elusive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Dave McCrory, CTO at Basho Technologies, will explore how a distributed systems solution, such as NoSQL, can give organizations the consistency and availability necessary to succeed with on-demand data, offering high availability at massive scale.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what th...
Security can create serious friction for DevOps processes. We've come up with an approach to alleviate the friction and provide security value to DevOps teams. In her session at DevOps Summit, Shannon Lietz, Senior Manager of DevSecOps at Intuit, will discuss how DevSecOps got started and how it has evolved. Shannon Lietz has over two decades of experience pursuing next generation security solutions. She is currently the DevSecOps Leader for Intuit where she is responsible for setting and driv...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science f...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness,...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. ...
Vormetric on Wednesday announced the results of its 2015 Insider Threat Report (ITR), conducted online on their behalf by Harris Poll and in conjunction with analyst firm Ovum in fall 2014 among 818 IT decision makers in various countries, including 408 in the United States. The report details striking findings around how U.S. and international enterprises perceive security threats, the types of employees considered most dangerous, environments at the greatest risk for data loss and the steps or...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP ...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Storage administrators find themselves walking a line between meeting employees’ demands to use public cloud storage services, and their organizations’ need to store information on-premises for security, performance, cost and compliance reasons. However, as file sharing protocols like CIFS and NFS continue to lose their relevance, simply relying only on a NAS-based environment creates inefficiencies that hurt productivity and the bottom line. IT wants to implement cloud storage it can purchase a...
Cloud Technology Partners on Wednesday announced it has been recognized by the Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards as one of the Best Amazon Web Services (AWS) Consulting Partners. Selected by the editors of TechTarget's SearchDataCenter.com, and by votes from customers and strategic channel partners, the companies acknowledged by the Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards represent the top providers of cloud consulting services for AWS including application migration, application development, inf...