Hamburg Metropolitan Region – Chemicals

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The sector – Good elements and connections

The strong development of the chemical industry in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region is due primarily to the availability of the raw materials it needs. Rock salt, for example, the basic product of salt deposits nearby, is readily available. Other raw materials can be brought in cheaply through the Port of Hamburg. Crude oil, the feedstock for the petrochemical industry, is mostly imported, but off our shores there is also drilling for oil.

The chemicals industry in Hamburg Metropolitan Region employs 43,000 people. Between 2006-07 the workforce grew by 2.2 per cent. Around nine per cent of sales in the chemical industry in Germany are produced by the Hamburg Metropolitan Region’s three federal states. In 2006, 282 companies achieved sales of more than EUR 14bn.

Thanks to good infrastructure and transport connections for basic products, the regional sector concentrates on production of basic chemicals and other feedstock, notably in Stade, Brunsbüttel, Harburg and Walsrode. Petrochemicals and plastics industry operations complement these locations. In addition, numerous companies in and around Hamburg have made a name for themselves with consumer-related products, including the famous brands Nivea, Schwarzkopf and Dove.

Excellent infrastructure, outstanding research institutions and universities round off the list of locational plus points. Information about cooperation opportunities is available from organisations such as VCI-Nord, the North German chemical industries association, ChemCoast, the association of North German chemicals operations, or the growth promotion initiative, Süderelbe AG, all of which look after the sector’s interests.

Focal point – Salt and petroleum – rich in synergies

Chemicals in the North benefit from the availability of raw materials down the added-value chain. The RWE group produces crude oil from Germany’s largest oilfield on the North Sea coast. Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH processes the crude oil in its own refineries in Hamburg and Heide and supplies the chemicals industry with basic products. The whole process chain takes place in Hamburg Metropolitan Region, with short distances between from extraction to landing, to processing and refining.

A chlorine chemicals facility developed out of the traditional salt business in the Stade area. Dow Deutschland Anlagengesellschaft mbH, for example, operates a works in which chlorine, caustic soda and many other basic chemical products are manufactured. In addition, specialised plastics producers for aircraft production are also based here (CFK-Valley). Brunsbüttel has established itself as a strategically location between the Elbe and the Kiel Canal for chemical basic materials. Companies such as Sasol Germany GmbH and Bayer AG also produce basic chemicals there, such as fatty alcohols, which are used for surfactant production. There are also many companies producing petrochemical products or paint and dyes.

Dow Wolff Cellulosics GmbH in the traditional Walsrode industrial estate is a centre of excellence for cellulose derivatives. Here in the Lüneburg Heath the chemical industry began back in 1815, initially producing gunpowder and other explosives.

The sector is characterised by numerous small and medium-sized companies. They produce plastics, preservatives and artificial resins. Albis Plastic GmbH, for instance, is a globally active technical plastic compound manufacturer and Synthopol Chemie Dr. rer.pol.Koch GmbH & Co. KG is a leading producer of artificial resins in Europe.

A special niche has developed through the vicinity of the shipyards: manufacturing of ships paints. Other focal points of the chemicals industry are primarily in consumer-related products. Companies such as Beiersdorf AG, Henkel GmbH & Co. KG, MAPA GmbH or Unilever Deutschland GmbH, with brands such as Nivea, Hansaplast, Tesa, Billy Boy, Schwarzkopf, Dove and Coral, have brought the German market an outstanding significance.

The pharmaceuticals industry is of major importance to Hamburg and the northern districts. Of the chemical trading companies, the world’s biggest chemicals trader, Helm AG, stands out. Also in Hamburg Metropolitan Region are Norddeutsche Affinerie AG, with Europe’s largest copper smelter, and Ölmühle AG, with the world’s largest biodiesel plant.

Education, research & development – Special ingredient: Research and development

Hamburg Metropolitan Region offers a huge range of training opportunities for future generations in the sector. Six university-level institutions and three renowned research institutes contribute a great deal to education, research and development in the Metropolitan Region. The chemistry faculties at the universities of Hamburg and Kiel offer degree courses in chemistry, and business and chemistry. Research in Hamburg focuses on research into high performance analytic chemistry, materials science and liquid crystal. The chemistry department works closely with the large research institutions GKSS and DESY, for instance on materials research and structural analysis of macromolecules.

The process engineering faculty at the Hamburg-Harburg TU is known for its excellent and practice-oriented teaching Research focuses range from thermodynamic fundamentals through to applications in separator and process technology.

When it comes to environmental technology, the Lübeck University of applied sciences offers degree courses in chemistry, whilst its Lübeck neighbour, Leuphana Universität, offers chemistry as a secondary degree subject in conjunction with a major in engineering or business administration. At Göttingen private university of applied sciences in Stade, courses are tailored to plastics production companies involved in application of carbon-fibre reinforced plastics technology in aircraft construction.

The Itzehoe-based Fraunhofer Institute for silicon technology is a leader in developing chemical mechanical polishing (CMP), a key technology in the production of state-of-the-art integrated circuits.

Business development – Lubrication for the sector: Associations and initiatives 

The ChemCoast regional alliance grouping the North German chemical sites of Brunsbüttel, Seelze, Stade, Walsrode and Wilhelmshaven is well prepared for the future: considerable investment and a whole series of activities and projects has put the ChemCoast chemical park ahead of the European competition. One good reason is the ethylene pipeline between Stade and Brunsbüttel.

At the centre of Europe, with connections to modern ports and international seaways, ChemCoast ensures that consignments of feedstock and products reach destinations all over the world. The Baltic Sea opens up the new Eastern European markets. The ChemCoast Initiative has close relations with the business development agencies of the Metropolitan Region’s various federal states and with the Süderelbe AG growth initiative. This has led to joint marketing activities and cutting of red tape in bureaucratic processes.

The ChemCoast service centre advises companies considering relocation into the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. It can help, for example, in the search for a suitable site, which matches individual requirements.

The North German chemical industry association (VCI-Nord) looks after the interests of the sector in the four north German states and Hamburg Metropolitan Region from Hanover. The association’s primary responsibility is comprehensive information of members in the environmental and technology sector. Through its press and public relations work, and its presence at trade fairs and other events, the association works to ensure a positive image for the sector.

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