Close to 3,000 petrochemical industry representatives attended the recently concluded EPCA annual meeting in Berlin, where digitization dominated discussions.
A Platts seminar organized on the sidelines discussed key aspects like the impact of crude on petrochemicals and the polymers and aromatics outlooks for global markets. In numerous meeting across Berlin hotels, traders, producers and consumers formulated and updated their business strategies.
In this podcast, Platts editors Michael Samueli and Shashank Shekhar share what transpired at the annual four-day event.
We welcome any feedback or suggestions for topics. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MICHAEL SAMUELI: Hello and welcome to Platts Commodity Spotlight podcast on petrochemicals, for October tenth. My name is Michael Samueli; I have with me my colleague Shashank Shekhar. Hi Shashank.
SHASHANK SHEKHAR: Hello.
MICHAEL SAMUELI: We have just returned from the EPCA annual forum that concluded in Berlin, and we want to share what happened with you at that very important industry event. So, Shashank, what is the EPCA, and why is it so important for the petrochemical industry?
SHASHANK SHEKHAR: Thanks Mike. So, the EPCA. or the European Petrochemicals Association is about a half a century old organization that's about 700 member companies. These companies come from 53 countries and represent business to the tune of about 4.4 trillion euros.
The EPCA provides a platform for these companies and representatives from these companies to discuss issues that are crucial to the petrochemicals industry. These companies practically meet on the EPCA platform once a year and this has been happening for years now.
MICHAEL SAMUELI: Interesting, and what happened at this year's EPCA?
SHASHANK SHEKHAR: So, as far as the official count goes, Mike, there were about 2850 participants. Now, the figure touching 3000, and a lot of industry discussions of course starting with meetings, and then there were sessions on talent and diversity, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the petrochemicals industry, and there was one on supply chain.
We at Platts also organized (a) seminar on the sidelines of the event, and we discussed crucial issues like crude and its impact on petrochemicals; something on short-term surplus in the polymers market, but how the industry will still need to add capacity on the longer horizon. We had another discussion on how (the) US, which has shifted to lighter feedstock cracking, needs to import automatics to meet its demand.
MICHAEL SAMUELI: Right, and within those, what were the key discussions at the event?
SHASHANK SHEKHAR: This event had a lot to do with digitization, Mike. We could feel kind of a lot of sympathy is being paid on the issue of whether we discussed supply chain or whether we discussed inclusive economy growth. And the other two points I would like to mention are: the immediate impact on the European petrochemicals industry that is supposed to come from imports of American polymers.
Let's further define it as shale-based polymers production in the US. This is supposed to begin by the end of this year. So, we could feel that a lot of traders producers and consumers discussing the impact on the markets from this import. The other key discussion was the ethylene contract settlement process in Europe. A few months earlier the European Commission began scrutinizing the way Europe settles its ethylene contract.
Ethylene, as we know, is the primary building block of several petrochemicals. Besides this, there were a lot of other issues discussed on the monthly and annual contract settlements of various products; plant for production issues ... you name it and they discussed it at the EPCA.
MICHAEL SAMUELI: It's going to be interesting to see how these things develop, especially the ethylene contract price ... (right) ... So, looking ahead, where is the next EPCA scheduled, and are there any updates about the organization itself?
SHASHANK SHEKHAR: So, the next EPCA, Mike, is scheduled in Vienna, Austria. It's the same venue where it was scheduled in 2014. The other key development I would say is Marc Schuller, the executive vice president of speciality chemicals manufacturer Arkema, became the new president of (the) EPCA. Marc has replaced Tom Crotty. Tom is director of INEOS, and he was the former president of the EPCA.
MICHAEL SAMUELI: Thanks Shashank, and thank you for joining us for today's podcast. Stay tuned and we will be back with more insight on petrochemicals. For further stories and insight you can go to platts.com/petrochemicals.