Interview with GBR: Developments Petrochemicals & Chemicals

Director Business Development of Chemicals Josef Müller has been interviewed by Global Business Reports about the developments of the Petrochemicals & Chemicals industry. You can read the full interview down below or here.

Steinweg is a leading logistics Group with a presence in 52 countries and over 175 years in the market. How has the company evolved in the chemicals space?

”When I joined Steinweg eleven years ago, the business was a leader in logistics, particularly for commodities such as metals and minerals, soft commodities, as well as project cargo and stevedoring. A decade later, our chemical output increased to around 1.3 million t/y, and we now have 16 facilities throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Steinweg concentrates only on packed chemicals instead of bulk chemicals and specializes in DG, which demands specific attention to safety and other factors such as a temperature-controlled environment.”

Josef Müller, Director Business Development Chemicals
Josef Müller, Director Business Development Chemicals

Could you walk us through your growth strategy from here on?

”Our expansion strategy centers on Southeast Asia, as it estimates that by 2030, 60% to 65% of global chemical trades will occur there. In 2012, Europe accounted for 75% of our business volume, but now Europe accounts for 34% and Southeast Asia for 20%-25%. Similarly, China has enormous growth prospects for new technologies and improving efficiency, but market penetration takes time. Being the pioneering company in South Africa, Steinweg collaborated extensively with local authorities and the industry to implement Western standards and global best practices. Utilizing our experience in Africa, we explained to the industry in Malaysia how compliance benefits our stakeholders, the industry, the environment, the economy, and, most importantly, the people.

”Steinweg was the first LME (London Metal Exchange)-approved participant to operate in Johor Port and the Port Klang Free Zone incorporated in Malaysia in 2004. Steinweg introduced the Chemical Division to Port Klang in 2019 with both local and EU-compliant infrastructure to service various DG cargo types in Malaysia. By the end of June 2023, a new filling machine from the Netherlands will be commercially available for DG / NDG liquid filling services to support our clients and meet market demand.”

How do you see the role of Malaysia as a hub for transshipments in Southeast Asia?

”Malaysia’s position as a transshipment center is critical for the Asia-Pacific region. After Singapore, Port Klang is the second-biggest port in the area. Yet, industry demand has already exceeded Singapore’s production capacity. Malaysia, and Port Klang in particular, benefits from the availability of capacity and the persistent cost advantages that drive its expansion. Substantial port-level expenditures planned in anticipation of massive volume diversion to Malaysia will also aid this trend.”

What makes Steinweg a preferred partner of choice for the specialty chemicals industry?

”In our view, the soul of Steinweg resides in our people. Customer satisfaction is what distinguishes Steinweg as a company. We do this by being as proactive as possible, predicting supply chain and cost needs, and integrating with the physical and digital capabilities of our customers. When an opportunity arises, we have no qualms about taking a step forward for our clients. For instance, this year, we invested in a semi-automated filling line for liquid chemicals at our warehouse in Port Klang to repack chemicals from bulk to smaller packaging, such as IBCs or drums. We know the market is going to Port Klang, but this expansion may only occur once someone introduces a machine and breaks the ice.”

What are the main challenges facing logistics players in 2023?

”The chemical industry will need to respond to decarbonization, recycling, and resource recovery in 2023 and beyond. Managing the unexpected is a challenge in supply- or demand-chain management. Regional or local sourcing, as opposed to global sourcing, is the next trend, with the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand selling chemicals to Europe and close-by markets in the Far East. In the event of an end of the conflict in Ukraine, Europe’s chemicals sector will see a massive spike in demand. Additionally, the scarcity of skilled labor will continue to be a point of contention, possibly more so in some locations than others, but it will remain an issue.”

Do you have a final message?

”A process can only be secure and efficient if all stakeholders are aligned in a collective compliance. To ensure conformance with the highest standards, all parties must federate and cooperate. We share our knowledge about compliance, supply chain solutions, and other areas to enhance the safety and performance of the local system.”

Published on: 1 August 2023