By BEN DuBOSE
HOUSTON -- Europe
s polyolefins industry
has strengthened in recent years as inefficient, high-cost
capacity has been forced to shut down and producers have
targeted innovation, a consultant with IHS Chemical said on
Companies are becoming more innovative in their quest
to remain viable, said Nick Vafiadis, senior director
of global polyolefins and plastics with IHS Chemical. He
spoke at the IHS World Petrochemical
Conference, held at
the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston.
Examples he cited were recent decision from INEOS and
Italys Versalis to import cheaper shale-derived ethane
from the US as feedstock
Additionally, he noted a new emphasis in Europe on specialty
products like metallocenes, with producers moving from
commodity grades that are becoming increasingly supplied by
lower-cost Middle East producers.
The somewhat positive outlook for European producers did not
come without some cautionary tales. For example, Iranian
imports are set to return to the market this year,
potentially adding to competition.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) is striving to reduce its
single-use plastic bags by 80% in six years.
Because of those factors, Europe
an operating rates are
expected to remain below 80%, even after a wave of
rationalization in recent years.
Nonetheless, the outlook appears brighter now than it was a
year or two ago, he said -- and innovation holds the key.
Innovation improves margins, stimulates demand, and
creates competition, he said.
The IHS World Petrochemical
on Thursday afternoon.