A quick Insight in the ARA petrochemical tank storage market.

In Northwest Europe the oil and the petrochemical sectors are leading sectors that employ thousands of people directly and indirectly within the region. The main European production cluster for liquid bulk products is made up of the Benelux countries, Switzerland and the German and French regions that are connected to the Rhine river.

The Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp region or ARA is the main trade hub that connects Europe to global markets. The petrochemical sector is responsible for producing various materials such as plastics, paints, solvents, fibres and raw materials for pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector. Taking a closer look at the petrochemical side of the cluster and the different market participants in it, many of the companies produce goods in high-volume or ‘bulk’ quantities.

Companies in this cluster have been getting more exposed to severe competitive pressure. This has been Leading to the closure of for example La Mede refinery, Reichstett refinery, Petit Couronne refinery and the Wilhemshafen refinery. Also the decision made by Gunvor to not go ahead with their investment in upgrading the GPR site is a sign of high uncertainty amongst players about what the future will bring. Despite this at the same time there are others planning expansion like Ineos, one of the leading chemical companies with sales of around 60 billion dollars and their production network spans 171 sites and 24 countries. Ineos announced that their plan will have 2.7 billion capital investment in Northern Europe.

One of the things to watch in the future and the question for all is; where will the new Ineos plant be built. According to news articles both Rotterdam and Antwerp are being considered. As Ineos already has production sites in Antwerp we give Antwerp a slightly bigger chance, but you never know what the outcome will be. Either way it is likely to boost trade in ARA, as Ethane and propane imports will increase and most likely chemicals and intermediates trade will also increase.