Companies in this industry manufacture gases, dyes and pigments, chlorine and caustic soda, sulfuric and nitric acids, and organic chemicals. Major companies include BASF (Germany), Dow (US), Formosa (Taiwan), Royal Dutch Shell (the Netherlands), Mitsubishi Chemicals (Japan), SABIC (Saudi Arabia), Sinopec (China), and TOTAL (France).
Demand depends on the overall strength of the economy, because most industrial chemicals are used in the manufacture of more-complicated products like fibers, plastics, paints, and paper. The profitability of individual companies is closely linked to efficient operations, because most products are commodities. Big producers have large economies of scale in production, which is why some chemicals are made by just a handful of companies. Small companies can compete effectively by making specialized or highly-purified products.
Products, Operations & Technology
Industrial chemicals include gases like oxygen and nitrogen, dyes and pigments, chlorine and caustic soda, sulfuric and nitric acids, and thousands of organic chemicals. Unlike advanced chemicals that are manufactured through complicated chemical reactions, most industrial chemicals are made by extraction and purification from natural substances, including minerals, natural gas, petroleum, plants, air, and water. Oxygen and nitrogen gas are made by freezing air, phosphates from marine deposits, ethanol by fermenting corn, chlorine from salt water, and a large number of chemicals are made by boiling petroleum.