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  • Succeeding in Europe's Fertilizer Market

    Succeeding in Europe's Fertilizer Market

    Survival for European fertilizer producers depends on thoughtful strategies and some feeding from EU policy makers.

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    Chemical fertilizers play a central role in meeting the agricultural needs of a growing population. And those needs are surging. The United Nations predicts that the global population will increase by 2.3 billion people through 2050, and the world will have to produce 70 percent more food.

    However, in Europe the fertilizer industry is facing a period of struggles. As most of the continent reaches its limit in terms of both arable land and fertilizer use European demand for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is expected to remain low through 2022. This slow growth is just one of many hurdles for Europe's fertilizer industry to overcome before it can benefit from the global increase in food demand.

    The paper examines the moves European fertilizer firms can make to thrive, highlights five success factors, and discusses what EU policy makers can do to improve the industry's competitiveness.

  • video The Shale Gas Revolution and American Competitiveness

    The Shale Gas Revolution and American Competitiveness

    Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 13 June 2013

    Vance Scott, leader of A.T. Kearney's Oil & Gas, Chemicals, and Energy Practices in the Americas, moderates this panel discussion about today’s historic opportunity for American competitiveness in the global economy because of the shale gas revolution.

  • Cost-Effective Green Mobility

    Cost-Effective Green Mobility

    How can India minimize the environmental impact of its auto industry while maintaining growth?

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    Car sales in India are going through the roof as the country continues to grow and prosper. More people with money means more goods and services and more cars to transport them. While prosperity is a welcome addition to the India economy, the impact on the environment is not. In fact, the environmental challenge raises some important questions: How can India minimize the environmental impact caused by the transportation sector without impacting the country's growth momentum? Which automotive technologies are environmentally friendly? How can Indian automakers sell "green" cars at a price that will suit cost-conscious Indian consumers?

    To answer these questions, A.T. Kearney and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) conducted a joint study to identify and prioritize key actions for cost-effective green mobility. This report explores various options available to India to move toward a green mobility paradigm with lower carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions—and therefore less impact on global warming—and lower emission of regulated pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), monoxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), and unburned hydrocarbon (HC).

    This report examines the opportunities available for a more cost-effective, greener mobility future for the consideration of all stakeholders: industry, government, and consumers.

  • Compliance in Manufacturing: A Very Personal Affair

    Compliance in Manufacturing: A Very Personal Affair

    Noncompliance can ruin corporate reputations, shatter financial performance, and destroy careers, families, and lives. With so much to lose, doesn't compliance deserve our undivided attention?

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    Corporate compliance—or, more accurately, the risk of noncompliance—has become a major concern over the past decade, especially for global manufacturers with operations in many different countries and jurisdictions. When a practice commonly accepted in one country could be a serious criminal or civil offense in another, companies had better know about it.

    Many firms understand that compliance can lead to competitive advantage and are making their suppliers commit to compliance standards that go far beyond those required by law.

    To understand how companies reduce the risks of noncompliance, A.T. Kearney surveyed execu¬tives at leading manufacturers, conducting in-depth interviews with compliance executives at nearly 40 top companies worldwide. While most studies approach compliance from a legal perspective, we focus our attention on compliance management.

    Five major findings emerged from our examination of compliance management in these areas:

    • Most companies expect to expand their compliance systems.
    • Lower management has a much less favorable perception of compliance systems than top management, indicating a strong need for administrative efforts to generate acceptance at all levels.
    • Most companies do not have an independent compliance department that reports directly to the executive board.
    • External resources are especially useful for setting up a compliance system.
    • The most effective compliance systems integrate compliance and process management.
  • Winning Supply Chains Integrate Today's Capabilities with Tomorrow's Goals

    Winning Supply Chains Integrate Today's Capabilities with Tomorrow's Goals

    Supply chain performance is a measure of competitive advantage—both immediate and long term.

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    Today, CEOs and supply chain executives continue to ask important questions:

    • How do we control mounting complexity?
    • How can we balance size and efficiency with flexibility and responsiveness?
    • Is it possible to plan for demand volatility?
    • Which of the many companies in our supply chains should be our closest and most trusted partners?

    Answering these questions requires taking a closer look at the pressures on today's supply chains, the different improvement measures available, and the reasons why companies often fail to take the appropriate measures.

    Executives know they need to improve their supply chain performance and that simply cutting costs and improving service is no longer a viable option. Yet those who move beyond the basics to take the larger leap of seeking transformative change often fall short. There are several reasons why:

    • After picking the low-hanging fruit, what's next?
    • Benchmarking is analogous to goal setting.
    • Trouble getting past unfulfilled promises.
    • Measuring beyond cost and service.

    Next, supply chain objectives must be closely aligned to overall business objectives, especially if the goal is to gain competitive advantage. At this level, it is important that your supply chain capabilities can carry you into the future.

    Once you are looking beyond cost and service and including "new" capabilities among your strategic targets, the result is increased and growing competitive advantage.

  • Southern Africa's Oil and Gas Opportunity

    Southern Africa's Oil and Gas Opportunity

    Recent discoveries of major gas and oil deposits in southern Africa could dramatically improve the prospects for the region. 

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    Scattered pockets of natural gas off the coasts of South Africa and Mozambique were all that southern African countries seemed to offer in terms of oil and gas resources. That changed in 2010 and 2011, when a potential 500 trillion cubic feet of gas was identified across Mozambique and South Africa, along with 11 billion barrels of oil in Namibia. Together, these countries’ gas reserves equal those of Canada or Venezuela. 

    The discoveries present major opportunities for South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia—from reducing the cost and carbon intensity of power generation to creating a supply of chemical feedstock to drive manufacturing development. Chemical companies have the most to win from the exploitation of gas in the region. With a looming worldwide oversupply of chemical capacity, only regions with a source of local, low-cost feedstock will stay competitive. Southern African gas offers that opportunity. 

    This paper examines some of the economics of oil and gas in the region, considers their possible impact, and offers recommendations for handling these resources. 

  • Risk of Catastrophic Incidents Is Becoming Manageable

    Risk of Catastrophic Incidents Is Becoming Manageable

    Natural Gas & Electricity, January 2013

    The immediate risks of major or catastrophic incidents require augmenting your longer-term PSM programs with specific short-term actions to identify the highest risk exposures.
    ©2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., a Wiley company


  • With Fortunes to Be Made or Lost, Will Natural Gas Find Its Footing?

    With Fortunes to Be Made or Lost, Will Natural Gas Find Its Footing?

    The U.S. shale gas market is out of balance, with production outstripping demand. When the glut ends, how will the market shake out?

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    Despite all the talk about shale gas development—the potential environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing, the potential to replace coal with gas for generating electricity, the potential for the United States to export liquefied natural gas (LNG)—none of it addresses the bigger picture: The market is structurally out of balance, and it can’t stay this way. The technological triumph of shale gas has led to production that far outstrips demand, and if this were a normal market, price and demand shifts would have already delivered a quick rebalancing.

    But shale gas is not a normal market and a rebalancing is not likely in this complex ecosystem where a wide array of players have diverging incentives and investment horizons. Over the past 20 years, gas prices have fluctuated between $2 and $15 per million BTU. At the low end, the producers are not viable, and at the high end, users of gas cannot afford to use it. Will we face more years of such fluctuations before achieving balance, especially since numerous decisions affecting that balance are still up in the air? And yet, bets must be placed now. Infrastructure must be built. With fortunes to be made or lost, these decisions must be as informed as possible. 

    If supply and demand were stable and investment cycles were shorter, it would be easy for market forces to align them. But the U.S. market for natural gas and NGLs is driven by several diverse and unpredictable variables: the global economy, oil prices, energy and environmental policies, a rise in the global gas supply, or technological advances that are still unknown. Although these variables could interact in any number of permutations, our analysis finds five scenarios that could capture a range of potential outcomes. The most likely scenario, which we call free markets, involves the least dramatic changes from current conditions. In this scenario, GDP growth is modest, oil prices remain within current trading ranges, LNG export becomes a reality, and no major global natural gas production or technological advance affects the balance of forces seen today.

    We believe the price of natural gas in the free-markets scenario will find equilibrium by 2020 in the $6 to $7 range. Any lower than that and production from dry-gas wells would not be profitable and would not increase sufficiently to meet demand; any higher and demand from power plants will wane. But in this range, demand is high in all major sectors, leading to high margins for producers and strong capital investments.

    Although the free-markets scenario is the most likely in our analysis, the outcome of global events and governmental actions could lead us down other paths. There are four other possible scenarios:

    • Troubled times. A geopolitical event triggers a disruption in oil supply, sending oil prices up and the global economy into a double-dip recession. Natural gas demand collapses to 20 percent below the free-market scenario level. 
    • Limited export. The U.S. government decides to limit natural gas exports and provides support for other fuels in an effort to achieve energy independence, thus depressing natural gas demand.
    • Global gas competition. Other major economies are successful in developing wet shale plays. As a result, demand falls for both LNG exports and ethane-based chemicals from the United States, challenging the overall economics of shale gas plays in North America.
    • High output. Robust global GDP growth and lack of global shale developments lead to the highest level of U.S. natural gas demand.

    These scenarios represent a combination of various, and sometimes drastic, supply and demand discontinuities.

  • U.S. Shale Gas Implications Vary

    U.S. Shale Gas Implications Vary

    ICIS Chemical Business, 3-9 December 2012

    A.T. Kearney's Andrew Walberer provides a look into the shift from importing to exporting shale and natural gas and the long term implications on the chemical industry.


  • Growing Pains

    Growing Pains

    Oil and Gas Investor, 20 November 2012

    The North American gas market will grow more stable and predictable E&P players diversify and demand-side investments are better managed.


  • Can India's Power Sector Keep the Lights On?

    Can India's Power Sector Keep the Lights On?

    Despite past uncertainty, the long-term outlook for the country's power industry remains bright.

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    After nearly a decade of rapid growth marked by reform and investment, India's power sector has reached a new period of skepticism. Long-standing concerns about fuel availability, the financial health of state-owned distribution companies, and land and environmental issues have bubbled back up to the surface. Meanwhile, rising costs could threaten the viability of new projects. Nonetheless, the Indian power sector still holds much promise for its stakeholders. Despite a gloomy short-term picture, the medium to long-term outlook appears to be much more optimistic.

    This paper examines four trends that will shape the evolution of the Indian power sector over the next decade—fundamentally changing the industry structure and redefining the balance of power—and discusses the three major moves industry players have to address these trends.

  • As Goes Oil, So Goes Diesel

    As Goes Oil, So Goes Diesel

    CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly, Special Issue 2012

    Diesel fuel prices will remain high, but barring any major, unexpected disruptions in the crude oil market, dramatic price swings are unlikely for the time being.


  • ExCap ll: Top-Level Thinking on Capital Projects

    ExCap ll: Top-Level Thinking on Capital Projects

    Growth is back and hitting record levels. What are leading companies doing to get the most out of their capital projects?

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    Before the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, a perfect storm of factors had pushed capital spending to new heights. At the same time, global markets were offering ample, readily available funding in global markets; competition for scarce resources spurred companies to act quickly.

    The financial crisis of 2008 tightened capital markets and brought considerable uncertainty about long-term economic stability. For two years, capital investment activity dropped. In 2010, capital investments recovered and growth is expected for at least the next three years. Spurred by the push for new frontiers, companies are again investing heavily in capital projects. Capital spending is now $11 to $12 trillion annually, with growth of 10 percent or more expected in the next few years.

    However, certain paradoxes are creating significant challenges for managers across the globe and posing major risks to project economics. According to A.T. Kearney's second Excellence in Capital Projects study—or ExCap II—capital project performance remains well below par, with three out of five over budget, and seven out of 10 behind schedule.

    This paper examines the study findings, discusses the challenges managers face in capital projects, and highlights the leading practices across the capital expenditure life cycle.

  • Beyond Risk Management—Agility is the Key: Part II

    Beyond Risk Management—Agility is the Key: Part II

    Supply Chain, 26 June 2012

    In part two of a two-part feature article, the authors discuss the benefits of an agile value chain.


In the News

Read insights from A.T. Kearney consultants quoted in the media.

Global Leaders

Richard Forrest
Richard Forrest
Vance Scott
Vance Scott
Neal Walters
Neal Walters
Vikas Kaushal
Vikas Kaushal
Asia Pacific
Tobias Lewe
Tobias Lewe
Europe, Middle East, and Africa