Basic petrochemicals are one of the pillars of the petrochemical activities of Versalis, whose products have a range of important industrial uses, such as the production of polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and polystyrene. In addition, they are also used in the production of other petrochemical intermediates that converge into a range of other productive processes: plastics, rubbers, fibres, solvents and lubricants.
Intermediates revenues (€2,709 million) decreased by €341 million from 2012 (down by 11.2%) reflecting mainly decreased volumes sold (down by 4.2%) and average unit prices (down by 1.9%), with different trends in each business: in the olefines sales volumes of ethylene decreased (down by 4%) due to the planned standstill at the Priolo plant and lower consumption, with prices slightly decreasing compared to previous year, while butadiene volumes reported a sharp decrease (down by 38%) driven by the weakness of elastomers market and the reduced average prices by 23% reflecting the consumption crisis. In aromatics, benzene sales volumes registered a decline of 7.4%, while xylene volumes increased by 7.5%, with average prices in line with 2012. Revenues from derivatives declined mainly due to lower volumes of phenol/derivatives (down 3.6%) due to lower availability of product following planned downtime at the Mantova plant, partly offset by 1.4% increase in average sale prices.
Intermediates production (3,462 ktonnes) registered a decrease from the last year (down by 133 ktonnes or 3.7%) due to reductions in olefines (down 5.7%) and derivatives (down 2.4%) driven by lower utilization of Priolo cracking plant and lower production of butadiene (down 10.3%) affected by the planned facility downtimes at the Brindisi and Ravenna plants. These reductions were partly offset by higher aromatics production (up by 3% compared to previous year) due to higher xylene production.
In the polymers business Versalis is active in the production of:
- polyethylene that accounts for approximately 40% of the total volume of world production of plastic materials. It is a basic plastic material, used as a raw material by companies that transform it into a wide range of goods;
- styrenics, polymeric materials based on styrenes that are used in a very large number of sectors through a range of transformation technologies. The most common applications are in the industrial packaging and food industry, small and large electrical appliances, building isolation, electrical and electronic devices, household appliances, car components and toys;
- elastomers, polymers characterized by high elasticity that allow them to regain their original shape even after having been subjected to extensive deformation. Versalis has a leading position in this sector and produces a wide range of products for the following sectors: tyres, footwear, adhesives, building components, pipes, electrical cables, car components and sealing, household appliances; they can be used as modifiers for plastics and bitumens, as additives for lubricating oils (solid elastomers); carpet backing, paper coating, moulded foams (synthetic latex). Versalis is one of the world’s major producers of elastomers and synthetic latex.
Polymers revenues (€2,933 million) decreased by €255 million from 2012, or by 8%, due to average unit prices decreasing by 19% and lower elastomers sale volumes (down by 9.7%) due to the significant decrease in demand from the tyre and automotive industry. This negative performance was partly offset by higher average prices of styrene (up 7.5%) and polyethylene (up 1%) registered particularly in the last part of 2013. Polymer production (2,356 ktonnes) decreased by 140 ktonnes from 2012 (down 5.6%), due mainly to a decline in production at the Ravenna plant and at English sites (Hythe and Grangemouth) reflecting market trends.