The Estarreja Chemical Complex (ECC) was visited by the Portuguese Minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, who thus had first-hand contact with the relevance of this cluster of the National Chemical Industry and the opportunities and challenges for its competitiveness. The event was attended by João de Mello, CUF’s CEO, Jon Bilbao, Dow’s General Manager for Portugal and Spain, Cristina Ballester, Air Liquide’s General Manager for Portugal and Spain, and Luís Montelobo, Representative Delegate of the Board of Directors of Management of CIRES, as well as other executives of ECC companies.
Composed by CUF, Air Liquide, CIRES and Dow Portugal, the Complex is a leading petrochemical production site, which plays a decisive role in the Portuguese economy, namely at the regional level, in the municipality of Estarreja and the region of Aveiro. It guarantees almost 500 direct jobs, 418 million euros of exports and 209 million euros for the national trade balance.
The Minister’s visit to the ECC began at the CUF plant, where he was received by João de Mello, this unit’s CEO: “CUF, like the other companies in the Estarreja Chemical Complex, has made a strong commitment with innovation and efficiency. This is paramount to be able to mitigate, albeit only partially, idiosyncratic costs, where the Estarreja Chemical Complex is at a disadvantage, when compared to other large European petrochemical complexes. Among these costs, Energy stands out; tariffs for large consumers are substantially higher than those in other European countries, hampering additional investments and posing challenges to the preservation of jobs, exports and the overall economic value generated in this Complex.”
Jon Bilbao, Dow´s General Manager for Portugal and Spain, said: “It is an honour to host the Minister's visit to our Estarreja plant, which uses the latest technology for the production of PMDI, a key-material for the polyurethane industry. We have recently exceeded nominal production capacity and will continue to invest in technological improvements to respond to market and customer needs, while maintaining high standards of safety and sustainability.”
According to Cristina Ballester, Air Liquide's General Manager for Portugal and Spain, “Air Liquide's ability to support its customers, providing them with the highest standards in terms of quality, safety, reliability and efficiency, is based on a relationship of mutual trust, with a common and shared objective: competitiveness. This commitment encourages us to continue working on the development of projects that, thanks to innovation and a spirit of continuous improvement for sustainability, help us to increase efficiency, so that our ECC clients achieve their goals.”
Luís Montelobo, Representative Delegate of the Management Council of CIRES, highlighted the company's strategy; of technological innovation, development of new products with greater added value and leadership in the Iberian market, highlighting the need for the ECC to have an energy infrastructure able to be competitive at the European level.
The total impact of the ECC on the national economy goes far beyond its direct effects. It is estimated that its direct and indirect activity corresponds to around 940 million euros, equivalent to 0.3% of Portugal's GDP. But not only: the ECC activity is responsible for 3,100 jobs (0.07% of the national total) and 287 million euros for gross value added (0.17%) – values that stress its strategic importance for the Portuguese economy.