DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 14, 10:10 a.m. EST) — European polyolefins giant Borealis A/S has realigned its management and is investing more than a billion dollars in the Middle East to boost its market position there and in Asia.
At a K show news conference in Dusseldorf, Chief Executive Officer John Taylor made his first appearance before the media since assuming that post April 1. A 26-year polymer industry veteran and former European vice president for polyolefins with Exxon Chemical from 1990-96, Taylor returned to the petrochemicals industry in the spring after stints in Britain's nuclear industry and some small technology companies.
He came back to a changed landscape and an industry rife with overcapacity, consolidation and shifting centers of power.
Borealis, created in 1994 via the merger of the polyolefins businesses of Norway's Statoil AB and Finland's Neste Oy, today employs more than 5,000 and has sales of about 4 billion euros ($3.6 billion). The Lyngby, Denmark-based firm produces more than 7.7 billion pounds of polyethylene and polypropylene a year.
Taylor said it is preparing to initiate production Dec. 1 at a new, $1.2 billion complex in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates — its first major manufacturing site outside of Europe. Dubbed Borouge, the joint venture with Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. includes two 496 million-pound-per-year resin plants that will use Borealis' proprietary Borstar technology to produce bimodal PE. The complex includes an ethane cracker with annual capacity of 1.32 billion pounds.
The firm also recently created a joint venture sales and marketing company in Singapore to handle output in the region from the Borouge facility. Henry Sperle, executive vice president in charge of the Middle East and Asia, estimated that Borouge will export about 60 percent of its production to China, India and Southeast Asia.
Borealis also wants to shore up its position in its backyard.
“We have maintained our European market share over the past four years,” Taylor said, “but Basell has overtaken us and BP is coming on strong.”
He went on to announce that David Rolph has joined Borealis as executive vice president in charge of its new Polyolefins Business Group. Rolph had overseen the polymers business of European Vinyls Corp. until May.
Taylor noted that Borealis has invested heavily — the company also opened a Borstar PP plant in Austria in October 2000 — but added that its debts are too high. Still, he expects to be able to pay down the debt from existing cash flow, without selling assets.
“We have set ourselves the mission of being a leading, profitable, integrated polyolefin supplier,” he said.
When asked whether expansion-minded Borealis has its sights set on the Americas, Taylor said, “The U.S. doesn't seem quite the place to be at the moment. For once, Europe appears to be more profitable.”