Petrochemicals and Plastics

Responsible use of natural resources means not only producing and processing them efficiently but also maximizing their value for society. For crude oil, this translates into finding long-lasting high-tech applications for hydrocarbons rather than burning them as a fuel. Products that are made from petrochemical products, such as ethylene, propylene, and butadiene, are largely used in our daily life.

Global Petrochemical Demand

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Global petrochemical demand (bar chart)

Economic development will drive a significant increase in the demand for petrochemical products. Demand for olefins, such as ethylene, propylene, butadiene, and benzene, is expected to increase by 37% by 2030.

In 2020, OMV acquired a majority stake in Borealis, a leading producer of polyolefins, upping the shareholding from the previous 36% to 75%. The purchase of a controlling majority in Borealis makes OMV a leading provider of polyolefins and base chemicals. OMV’s refineries produce mainly ethylene and propylene, which are further converted into polyethylene and polypropylene at Borealis. The joint production capacities make OMV and Borealis the number one producer of ethylene and propylene in Europe and one of the top ten polyolefin producers worldwide. The acquisition is a strategic extension of OMV’s value chain into high-value chemicals.

Increasing the share of petrochemicals and plastics in our product portfolio will reduce its carbon intensity: Using petrochemical products does not produce emissions unlike using combusted fuel products. This is also a significant contributor to achieving our goal of ensuring that 60% of our product portfolio is composed of low- and zero-carbon products by 2025.

Furthermore, polyolefins are used to make products that are important for the energy transition, such as solar panels and cables for transmitting renewable electricity. For instance, a high-voltage direct current () cable compound based on Borealis’ Borlink™ technology is being used in cross-linked polyethylene () power cables in the “German corridor projects.” This enormous undertaking will transport renewable energy from wind farms off the north coast of Germany to southern areas of the country. In addition, Borealis’ pioneering solutions are transforming what is possible with photovoltaic technology. Borealis’ Quentys encapsulant film considerably improves the reliability and durability of photovoltaic modules by enabling superior resistance to ultraviolet rays, a low rate of water vapor transmission, and no acetic acid or potential-induced degradation (). The technology offers a proven solution for increasing power output and reducing output decay, with minimal risk of electrochemical defects. There are substantial savings for the end user too, because degradation of the modules is significantly reduced over the module’s lifetime compared to traditional technology.

carbon dioxide
high-voltage direct current
cross-linked polyethylene
potential-induced degradation