Chemical Parks Under Threat?

From the 1990s onwards, the divestment of assets by many large chemical producers led to the break up of the single company supersites such as Wilton (UK), Marl and Leverkusen (Germany).
In order to survive the new reality, the 'Chemical Park' or 'Chemical Cluster' concept was established, with a number of operators on a site, sharing common infrastructure as well as a range of shared services.
New purpose-built parks have also been established, such as Jurong Island in Singapore, with over 94 multinational firms now present.
The concept is undoubtedly a good one. In principle, costs should be lower, as infrastructure and services costs can be shared between many parties and many suppliers/consumers are on the same site, reducing logistics costs. Permit applications for new plants are more straightforward as chemical production activity is already present at the site. Finally, the environmental issues related to plant closure should be simplified, due to the on-going industrial activity at the site
My personal experience is that whilst the concept may indeed be a very good one, participating companies need to weigh up very carefully the pros and cons for their own situation. Issues such as competitiveness of services, cost of and quality of infrastructure, flexibility of choice are very important - otherwise you may end up paying for some things you don't need and find yourself facing sharply rising future costs if the infrastructure quality is poor.
Also, in these challenging times, it is very important to consider what happens if other participating companies leave the cluster. As an example, Wilton in the UK, has suffered a number of recent plant closure announcements, with Dow Chemical, Croda, Invista and Artenius all annoucing closures.
Such a situation can increase costs and risks for the companies left behind and can, in the worst case, bring into question the viability of the entire site, unless positive action is taken to address the issues.
In balance, my view is that chemical parks are a good thing. Provided that the chemical park's strategy is consistent to the individual company operating strategy and all issues and threats have been considered and addressed, the positives do outweigh the negatives.

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