Ineos CEO Slams EU Green Taxes

15.02.2019 -

Jim Ratcliffe, founder and CEO of Ineos, has criticized the EU’s expensive energy and labor laws and “foolish” green taxes, claiming they have “frightened away” new investment.

In an open letter to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker published on Feb. 12, Ratcliffe said Europe is no longer competitive and its share of the world market has halved in the last decade from 30% to just 15%. Europe’s heavy “green” taxes are having the opposite effect to how they were intended and have instead pushed new investment into the “open arms of the US and China,” he remarked.

Just a few weeks ago, Ineos announced it had chosen Antwerp, Belgium, as the site of its €3 billion cracker and propane dehydrogenation complex, a move that Ratcliffe said was described by one of his peers as “mad.”

The billionaire entrepreneur told Juncker not to expect others to follow, this investment lead, as they “will be welcomed by the USA and China with a warm smile and a good strategy.” Shale gas has revitalized the US chemicals industry and high-growth markets in China and other parts of Asia have attracted the lion’s share of investment, he said.

Ratcliffe said Ineos’s plans for Antwerp, the first investment in a new cracker in decades, have been made “uniquely” possible because of the group’s ability to import huge quantities of cheap gas from the US, adding: “Nobody in my business seriously invests in Europe.”

Apart from the Antwerp cracker and PDH project, Ineos is far from withholding investment from Europe, however. In fact, the Swiss-based group has a number of other European  projects in progress. These include ethylene expansions in Grangemouth, UK, and Rafnes, Norway, and a €200 million program to upgrade ethylene oxide (EO) production in Antwerp and Lavera, France.

The company is also studying a new world-scale plant for ethylidene norbornene (ENB). This would add to an existing unit in Antwerp that is currently being expanded and due for completion by late 2019.

In addition, vinyls arm Inovyn is planning to hike output of general-purpose PVC at Jemeppe, Belgium, to meet growing demand.