Petrochemicals: meeting society's challenges

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Petrochemicals: meeting society's challenges

With the rise of the world’s economic middle class, we estimate that global demand for chemicals will rise by nearly 45 percent over the next decade alone, or about 4 percent per year. We have a responsibility to meet growing demand, while protecting the environment. 

The petrochemical industry is playing a key role in meeting today’s societal challenges. Chemicals help provide for the safe production and distribution of food and water; and they are helping to mitigate climate change, with chemical products providing solutions for society to reduce overall emissions. 

Chemical Safety

The European Union is responsible for regulating chemicals and many of the products in which they are used, such as pesticides and fertilizers. Chemical safety must be provided for during production, use and disposal of articles; and the EU has a fully functional regulatory framework in place with REACH and existing product legislation. This is the correct mechanism to manage EU chemicals safety.

ExxonMobil is fully committed to providing safe and reliable products for its customers and consumers, and we provide safety data sheets for all our products. 

Industry competitiveness

Europe’s chemical industry faces increased competition from other regions able to produce products at lower costs. A 2016 European Commission study estimated that the total cost of regulation’s impact to the sector was €9.5 billion per year between 2004 and 2014, which is the equivalent of approximately 26 percent of the sector’s gross operating surplus in the same period. A smart, efficient, and cost effective regulatory environment is important for the industry’s long-term competitiveness. 

As reforms are needed to level the international playing field, the Commission is working to advocate for better regulations. Its “Regulatory Fitness and Performance” program is an opportunity to address the issue by lowering the burden through smarter regulation.

The European petrochemical industry adheres to very high safety and environmental standards. The European Commission has recognized that global greenhouse gas emissions may rise if companies choose to move production to other countries or regions with lower environmental standards.

Petrochemical manufacturing in Europe enhances security of supply. Local production adds to diversity of feedstock supply, protecting against any unforeseen constraints to international supply chains.

Read more about petrochemicals in Europe here.