Europe's chemical industry is faring much better than expected, reflected in a buoyant mood at the 44th annual meeting of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA), taking place in Budapest on October 2-6, 2010. Attendance of 2,300 hit a record level, with the historic central European location attracting more spouses and partners than in recent years.
Meeting in the Hungarian capital for the first time, the event will be addressing the theme: "Nine Billion People in 2050. The chemical industry as an enabler of solutions." over the coming days. Delegates are conducting business against a background of stronger than anticipated prices, low inventory, and healthy margins. The scene is much different than predicted for the industry at this time last year. Executives are still figuring out what has happened, but certainly capacity reductions have played their part. European markets are healthy, and continuing strong demand from China and Asia has absorbed new capacities from the Mideast and elsewhere, keeping product out of Europe.
However, prices could remain volatile as the practice of keeping inventory levels low prevails. Tom Crotty, EPCA president and group director of Ineos believes that demand is fundamentally strong and not just reflecting restocking by industry. He expects 2011 to be "a recovery year, with the previous forecast cycle peak of 2012-2013 remaining true."