Despite the hard times for the European refinery industry, Belgium's petrochemical sector remains hopeful for the future. The country is expected to hold on to its position as a leading petrochemical producer in Western Europe as capacity in the polyesters, butadiene and synthetic fibres segments will increase, according to a new report published by Fast Market Research.

A series of investments in new facilities and capacity expansions is predicted to help Belgium ramp up petrochemical production next year. Some of the key developments scheduled for 2014 include the new JBF Industries PET facility, expected to add 432,000 tpa to the total PET production, as well as Lanxess' 90,000 tpa polyamide plastics plant, set to launch in the first quarter of next year. Over the next 12 months BASF is expected to complete its cyclohexane oxidation capacity expansion that will contribute a further 50,000 tpa to the total output.

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The launch of these operations is a clear indication that, even though the European petrochemicals market has been under a lot of pressure lately, investors have not lost hope, the report pointed out. Belgium is set to remain a major supplier for downstream processors in Germany and in other European countries. As a result of increased capacity across the value chain, especially in products intended for the automotive industry, Belgium's international competitiveness is likely to rise over the next 12 months, the report said.