In 2011, companies headquartered in Europe recorded a significant increase in sales compared with the previous year: Sales rose by 17% to reach €41,036 million. Sales in the chemicals business exceeded the very good level of the previous year and grew by 21% to €23,446 million.
We increased prices and volumes in almost all divisions of the Chemicals, Plastics and Functional Solutions segments; sales in these three segments grew significantly. We also posted a considerable sales increase in the Performance Products segment, resulting from both the inclusion of the acquired Cognis businesses as well as higher prices. The Agricultural Solutions segment developed positively, as well. Sales in this segment surpassed the level of 2010, mainly due to higher sales volumes. Despite the suspension of our oil production in Libya1 from late February to October 2011, sales in the Oil & Gas segment rose significantly thanks to higher prices.
Income from operations amounted to €5,668 million, an improvement of 9% compared with the previous year. This was mainly due to good earnings in the chemicals business – which, at €3,359 million, exceeded the previous year’s level by €147 million – as well as to gains on the disposal of our styrenics activities in the amount of around €382 million.
We strengthen our position in Europe through investments. At the Ludwigshafen site, for example, we will start up the world’s largest production plant for the aroma chemical L-menthol on schedule in the middle of 2012. L-menthol is an ingredient in numerous oral care, flavoring and pharmaceutical industry products. In addition, construction on the Baltic Sea Pipeline Link, which starts near Greifswald, Germany, was completed in the middle of 2011. The 470 kilometer natural gas transit pipeline has a transport capacity of more than 35 billion cubic meters and started operations together with the first Nord Stream pipeline in fall 2011.
Furthermore, as part of our Strategy 2020 in Europe, we started our new industry-based initiatives Agro/Food/Feed/Fuel, Clean Tech Energy and Furniture/Wood in 2011. This strategy involves looking at value-adding chains, such as wind energy, from a cross-divisional standpoint and position BASF as a sector-specific solution provider. We continued to develop existing industry-based initiatives, such as construction and packaging, and intensified customer and country-based approaches. These cross-segment initiatives will help us to reach our growth targets in the Europe region in 2020.
1 Crude oil production in Libya is operated by branches belonging to European BASF companies; sales and earnings from these activities are therefore reported in the region Europe.