• Sales rise 8% to €6,904 million due to higher prices and volumes
  • Considerable decline in EBIT before special items attributable to lower margins, higher fixed costs and low water level of Rhine River

The Petrochemicals division increased sales to third parties by €515 million to €6,904 million in 2018. This was mainly due to significantly higher sales prices. These rose in all regions and business areas, largely following the higher raw materials prices for naphtha and butane, our most important feedstock. We also increased volumes. In Europe, sales volumes were slightly higher than in the previous year, as the supply of raw materials through the North Harbor and thus production in Ludwigshafen, Germany, was severely restricted in 2017. However, the low water levels on the Rhine River in the third and fourth quarters of 2018 led to significant production limitations. Volumes rose in North America, mainly as a result of higher capacity utilization of the condensate splitter in Port Arthur, Texas. Sales were dampened by currency effects.

Petrochemicals – Factors influencing sales
Chemicals – Petrochemicals – Factors influencing sales (pie chart)
Petrochemicals – Sales by region

Location of customer

Chemicals – Petrochemicals – Sales by region (pie chart)

EBIT before special items declined considerably. Compared with the very strong prior-year level, margins decreased significantly over the course of the year, especially for steam cracker products. This was due to higher market supply as a result of new capacities in the market, particularly in North America. Fixed costs increased. In the previous year, we received significantly higher insurance refunds; in addition, maintenance expenses were up from the 2017 figure. The low water levels on the Rhine River was a significant contributor to the decline in earnings.