Tarragona’s chemical hub represents 25% of Spanish total

The chemical industries based in Tarragona, such as BASF, Dow Chemical and Repsol, expect their turnover to increase by 4% in 2012 compared to a year ago. In 2011, they exported 60% of their production, while in 2000 they were only exporting 30% of it. Furthermore, they have requested transport infrastructures to be improved and criticised the increase in energy taxes. About Catalonia’s hypothetical independence, they stated they “will respect what will be decided and will adapt to it”. These companies represent around 7% of Catalonia’s GDP.

CNA / Núria Torres

October 17, 2012 01:07 AM

Tarragona (ACN).- On Tuesday, the Association of Chemical Companies of Tarragona (AEQT) presented its 2012 report with data from 2011. Tarragona is the main chemical hub in Spain and one of the most important in Southern Europe. It represents 25% of Spain’s chemical sector and around 7% of Catalonia’s GDP. The chemical industries based in Tarragona, such as BASF, Dow Chemical, Bayer, Ercros and Repsol, expect to increase their global turnover for 2012 by 4%, reaching €14.5 billion. The AEQT report explains that in 2011 Tarragona’s chemical hub was exporting 60% of its production while in 2000 this share only represented 30%. During the report’s presentation, the AEQT – which groups the business owners of the chemical companies – also put its main claims upfront. AEQT’s Chairman, Joan Pedrerol, stated that their main concern is to improve transport infrastructure, mainly the international-width standard railway connection between Central Europe and Tarragona’s port. This project has been delayed many times by the Spanish Government, but now it has included the connection with Tarragona harbour in its 2013 budget. “We need this now” in order to export, emphasised Pedrerol, who celebrated this inclusion but lamented the lack of funds for other strategic projects, such as the A-27 motorway. He also criticised the increase in energy taxes as they might have an effect on competitiveness. Besides this, regarding Catalonia’s hypothetical independence, Pedrerol stated: “we will respect what will be decided and we will adapt to it”.

Tarragona’s chemical industry leads Spain’s chemical sector and exports. Tarragona’s petrochemical hub exported 60% of its production, while the sector’s average in Spain is 50%. In the last 11 years, the exports from Tarragona’s chemical hub have been growing annually by 8% on average. In 2000 exports represented 30% of the production and by 2011 they had reached 60%.

AEQT’s turnover to increase by 4% in 2012

Forecasts indicate that the AEQT companies’ turnover will reach €14.5 billion in 2012, 4% more than in the previous year. This means they represent 25% of Spain’s entire petrochemical industry, which expects a global turnover of €57.8 billion. Tarragona’s chemical hub expects to continue this growth, especially regarding exports. According to forecasts, they would add €700 additional million to the annual turnover by 2014.

However, the increase of energy costs is an obstacle they will have to face. “We have set up 1,190 MW of power, 820 MW of which come from combined cycle plants. Therefore, we will have to watch out in order not to lose competitiveness” because of the energy tax increase, explained Pedrerol. He criticised the tax increase decided by the Spanish Government in order to cover the electric companies’ deficit. “The energy sector should be at the service of companies, and not the other way round”, he stated.

On Catalonia’s independence: “we will respect it […] and we will adapt to it”

Asked about a hypothetical independent Catalonia, the AEQT stated they “will adapt to it” if it came. They stated they are much more concerned about economic issues, such as infrastructure projects, than about political debates. “We will respect what will be decided and we will adapt to it”, stated Pedrerol, who clarified that the companies would not abandon Tarragona in this scenario.

Improving infrastructures is the main concern

Pedrerol insisted that their main concerns are the building of infrastructure projects such as the railway connection linking Tarragona’s port with Central Europe through international-width standard railway, which would allow trains to go non-stop from Tarragona’s chemical plants to Central Europe and to the city harbour. The Spanish Government has finally budgeted €50 million in 2013 to build the international-width connection with Tarragona’s port. Pedrerol celebrated this investment, but lamented the delay and that other projects such as the A-27 motorway have no budget. “What gives confidence to companies is putting infrastructures as a priority”, he stated. “Our hub’s road map focuses on people’s talent, product innovation and competitiveness’ increase”, he concluded.