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European chemical companies face greater pressure to rethink the way they do business if they want to compete against U.S. petrochemical plants, which are benefiting from vast new supplies of cheap natural gas created by technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, said Kurt Aerts, ExxonMobil Chemical’s vice president of global supply chain.
Doubts have been swirling over whether European chemical companies will be able to stay afloat, plagued by high prices, stringent regulations and new competitors in the United States.
The shale boom has been a “game-changer” for the chemical industry, Aerts said, touching off a petrochemical building spree in the United States, as companies scramble to expand and retrofit their plants to capitalize on the cheap feedstock. European companies, however, primarily run on naphtha, which is typically derived from crude oil and is much more expensive.
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