Interview with Niels H. Hansen
on sustainable specialities
The year 2021 was turbulent and continued to be dominated by Covid-19. What were the issues that most concerned H&R?
NHH We have been able to track the develop-ment of the pandemic primarily on the basis of the competitive situation. The high demand ini-tially continued and we were able to generate very good revenues. In particular, the very good margins for base oils toward the middle of the year made a strong contribution to our best result since the company’s IPO twenty years ago. With a certain return to normality, raw materials became more expensive in the second half of the year. At the same time, we noticed stronger competition, meaning that we had to manage higher pressure on both the procurement and sales sides. For us, the focus was always on continuous supply to cus-tomers. We were able to ensure this at all times.
What role did the topic of sustain-ability play at H&R in the past year?
NHH The rising demand of our customers and consumers for sustainable and more cli-mate-friendly products makes it clear that the alternatives to fossil-based raw materials are becom-ing increasingly important. The high volatility on the raw materials markets has once again shown in the past year how important it is that we resolutely pursue our path in the direction of transformation. We are of the opinion that topics such as sustain-ability, resource conservation and the efficient use of raw materials need to be driven forward. As a company, we aim to offer feasible solutions.
So, a clear commitment to corpo- rate responsibility?
NHH I am pleased to answer that with a clear yes. At our 2021 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, we clearly laid out our sustainability targets. By 2030, 70% of the core products that we produce should be created on the basis of renewable raw materials, and we are aiming for carbon-neutral production by 2035. As a company in the chemi-cal-pharmaceutical industry, we are taking our re-sponsibility seriously. The focus of target achieve-ment is on a change in the two production sites that are important for the entire Group toward more renewable sources of raw materials and con-sequently the strategic development of the refinery operating model.
What concrete projects are being focused on in the coming few years for achieving the set goals?
NHH We still regard the selection of our raw ma-terials as the factor with the greatest leverage. We are pursuing our “three-pillar strategy” for a path away from using predominantly mineral-oil-based raw materials, toward the use of renewable com-ponents and synthetic raw materials. With the commissioning of the power-to-liquid plant in the first half of 2022, we will reach another milestone. By means of the synthesis process, the hydrogen produced by us will be combined with green CO2, and e-fuels and synthetic waxes will be produced from this. In addition to product volumes that are relevant for the first time, the demonstration project will also provide important findings about scaling the production of synthesized specialty products. We have also reestablished the topic of sustainability and introduced the function of a Transformation Manager. This function is intended to supervise the internal change and the achieve-ment of the strategic sustainability goal.