Industrial Chemicals performed strongly during the year. Chlor-Alkali and Monochloroacetic Acid (MCA) benefited from higher caustic lye prices than last year, with the MCA business realizing high volumes in high-margin markets, especially in China. The Chlor-Alkali performance was also characterized by a strong chloro-methanes business, as well as favorable results of electricity hedging and changed electricity regulations in Germany. The energy market in the Netherlands remained unattractive for energy producers as “spark spreads” (the difference between gas input costs versus electricity sales prices) adversely impacted our results. Salt also performed well, increasing its market share with its highest recorded chemical transformation (CT) salt volume. On the back of these strong performances, revenue increased by 9 percent; however total sales volume stayed flat except for MCA, Dimethyl ether (DME) and chloro-methanes. There was also a major maintenance stop earlier in the year for Electrolysis Rotterdam, which is done once every four years.
The fourth quarter saw revenue increase by 1 percent, but volumes declined by 6 percent – dominated by lower customer demand – except for MCA. Overall, salt volumes were strong, except for the road salt business, which was impacted by mild winter conditions. Transportation of chloro-methanes volumes was hampered by low water levels on the Rhine River.