INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe (Rolle, Switzerland) is considering selling its Rosignano, Italy and Sarralbe, France high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plants as part of a broader strategic review. European resin manufacturers, which largely rely on petroleum-derived naphtha for key monomers like ethylene, have been at a huge cost disadvantage to North American firms that utilize natural gas for their petrochemical feedstocks at a time when shale gas exploitation has pushed gas prices to extremely low levels.
Originally acquired from BP's Innovene business, Rosignano and Sarralbe have been a part of INEOS since December 2005. INEOS said in a release that both sites are "profitable and cash generative", but going forward, INEOS' strategy is to focus on the growth of its assets that are "highly integrated upstream and downstream."
INEOS stressed that it is in a very early stage of the evaluation process, and will still discuss plans with employees, works councils, and any interested third parties. The outcome of those discussions, it said, are not a "foregone conclusion." INEOS operates integrated cracker complexes in Germany, Norway, France (Lavéra), and the U.K., with eight additional non-integrated production sites in Europe, including two in Belgium (Lillo and Geel).
Sarralbe has 195,000 tonnes/yr and 90,000 tonnes/yr production capacity for HDPE and PP, respectively. The Rosignano plant has 200,000 tonnes/yr production capacity for HDPE. INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe was formed in 2008 after INEOS acquired Borealis AS. The roots of the business go back to 2004, when BP acquired Solvay's PE business. That would become Innovene in 2005, which was the acquired by INEOS in the same year, creating INEOS Polyolefins in 2006.