Chemical, Petrochemical and Refining Cluster

Portugal: Centre (Portugal)
Carla Pedro
90% completed


About us

In a continuously evolving sector such as the Chemical Sector, the Chemical, Petrochemical and Refining Cluster plays a strategic role. Managed by APQuímica and focused on a network-based work methodology, it integrates all associate entities and builds bridges between companies, as well as between these companies and universities and R&TD centres. The Cluster operates since 2009 and ranks among the 20 Clusters of Competitiveness acknowledged by IAPMEI and funded by European funds (Portugal 2020). The Cluster holds a Bronze Label certificate by the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI) and is a member of the Portugal Clusters initiative.

Areas of intervention

  • Value chains and specialties’ market integration
  • Human capital, R&D and Innovation
  • Industrial Symbiosis and Circular Economy
  • Decarbonization and Energy Transition
  • Infrastructure, transport and logistics
  • Responsible Care® and social engagement
  • Industry 4.0 e productive modernization

What does the Chemical Industry Cluster do?

• Development of studies and joint projects in the fields of energy, transport and logistics.

• Implementation of shared services, namely onsite services.

• Development of studies and projects to strengthen the integration of value chains and to promote new approaches based on Circular Economy frameworks.

• Implementation and active promotion of a network model linking sector companies to players in the field of Science and Technology (Universities, Research Centres), thereby contributing to the reinforcement of applied R&D and innovation in the activities of APQuímica/Cluster and all their associates.

• Participation in the creation and active promotion of EngIQ (Refining, Petrochemical and Chemical Engineering Doctoral programme and Advanced Training programme) – one of the most innovative doctoral and advanced training programmes in industrial environment in Europe, involving 5 universities, 11 R&D units and over 10 industrial companies.

• Promotion of methodologies for qualifying and certifying SMEs as suppliers to Cluster companies.

• Active participation in initiatives connecting industry to local communities (e.g. PACOPAR, COMSINES).

In 2020, the Cluster developed a collaborative platform ( aiming to promote the commercial interests of the Portuguese chemical sector, both within Portugal and internationally. On one hand, this platform displays a directory of profiles of several companies, products, services, consortium partners, R&D centers, among others, that each Cluster member can customize to their specific needs and/or demand. Through an easy and intuitive search method, this directory allows an interested party to find its next business partner.

On the other hand, the platform also hosts a Collaborative Area that aims to bring stakeholders closer to the chemical sector, promoting circular economy processes and facilitating the set-up of networks and partnerships, namely on R&D and innovation. The Collaborative Area is intended for supporting the design and dissemination of consortia and/or partnerships between Cluster members and other stakeholders, reinforcing the role of the Chemical Sector as a source of innovation and sustainability.

Established - 10 October 2008
Staff in the management team - 6-10
Support services for upskilling and reskilling of companies workforce
  • Competence development
  • Talent Attraction

Cluster composition

  • 64
    Cluster Members
  • 32
  • 5
    Number of start-ups among SME's
  • 14
    Large Companies
  • 8
    Research Organisations, Universities, Technology Centers
  • 10
    Number of civil society members

Presented by area of intervention:

Value chains and specialties’ market integration:

Bolster the level of integration and specialization of the Cluster’s value chains by:

  • Identifying and mapping strategic opportunities that can further develop the Cluster’s value chains and specialties market
  • Promoting corporate missions and establishing partnership within relevant international markets for the Cluster
  • Creating an investment attraction programme for the Cluster
  • Designing specific initiatives for the evaluation and development of value chains with the greatest integration and verticality potential within the Portuguese market
  • Designing a specific initiative to foster the collaboration between the Cluster’s companies whose main activity is within the “Pine resin and its derivatives” sector

Human capital, R&D and Innovation

Strengthen the Cluster’s innovation levels through continuously promoting the enhancement of the Cluster’s human capital and its integration within the Cluster’s low carbon R&D and Innovation activities in national and international networks by:

  • Upgrading the Cluster’s human resources (doctoral and advance training programmes – EngIQ; training suited to the sector’s needs, specifically in technical areas)
  • Drawing in and retaining qualified human resources (Integrated internship programme; support to the implementation of new recruiting and communication processes)
  • Fostering R&D and Innovation partnerships

Industrial Symbiosis and Circular Economy

Bolster the Cluster’s role in national and international Industrial Symbiosis and Circular Economy processes by:

  • Identifying and mapping specific opportunities of Circular Economy and Industrial Symbiosis that can be applied to Cluster companies and its relationship with other economical sectors/geographic locations
  • Creating an Industrial Symbiosis transactional platform
  • Fostering partnerships to assess and develop specific projects in subjects such as Circular Economy, biochemistry and eco-efficiency
  • Developing and/or participating in eco-design partnerships throughout specific value chains
  • Promoting Circular Economy dissemination and awareness activities

Decarbonization and Energy Transition

Support the Cluster’s companies in their decarbonization and energy transition pursuits, both from consumerism and manufacture standpoints, by:

  • Assessing the “electrification” potential of the Chemical Industry according to the RCN 2050 (Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality in 2050) and NECP 2030 (National Energy and Climate Plan)
  • Fostering communication channels with decision-making entities in order to promote measures that aim to reduce the energetic red tape cost (close the competitiveness gap between the Cluster and identical industries located in other EU countries), as well as to reduce barriers to the integration of renewable energies and its supply to the Cluster’s companies
  • Fostering electricity and natural gas integrated purchase initiatives
  • Developing an Energy Efficiency and Eco-efficiency Program for Cluster companies
  • Mapping and following-up with initiatives for Hydrogen production from renewable energy sources to be used as an energy vector
  • Fostering projects focused on transitioning to the use of renewable energies

Infrastructure, transport and logistics

Secure the level of access and support infrastructures required for the Cluster’s national and international operations/activities by:

  • Reviewing and updating the “Study of the Logistic Needs of the Refining, Petrochemical and Industrial Chemical Industries in Portugal”
  • Creating a Working Group to discuss proposals to strengthen accessibility/infrastructure and assess feasibility of different projects
  • Fostering new projects in logistics and transport
  • Developing a strategy to promote the decarbonization of logistics associated to Cluster companies

Responsible Care® and social engagement

Strengthen the Cluster’s stance as a national and international reference by focusing on Responsible Care® and engaging with the general society through:

  • Enhancing the performance of PACOPAR – Community Advisory Panel of the Responsible Care Program of Estarreja and COMSINES – Communities Council of Sines
  • Assessing the opportunities for the creation of new Industry – Local Communities panels
  • Fostering specific projects of social engagement with social/environmental impact
  • Promoting and dissemination of the Cluster and its activities within the Portuguese society
  • Sharing best practices

Industry 4.0 e productive modernization

Promote the Cluster’s efficiency gains and innovative productive processes through strengthening their digital transformation by:

  • Developing an action plan for the Cluster’s digital transformation
  • Strengthening the Cluster's human resources training in “Digital Skills 4.0”
  • Fostering a greater interaction with IAPMEI (Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation)
Legal form of the cluster organisation
Languages spoken
English Portuguese

Management team

Carla Pedro
Cluster Manager
João França
Inês Nogueira
Susana Gomes
Joaquim Gândara Marques
António Bruto da Costa

Sectorial and industrial focus

Sectoral industries
Manufacturing:C19 Manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products - Manufacturing:C20 Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products - Manufacturing:C21 Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
Sectoral Industries (NACE 4 digit)
Manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products:C1920 Manufacture of refined petroleum products - Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products:C2011 Manufacture of industrial gases - Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products:C2013 Manufacture of other inorganic basic chemicals - Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products:C2014 Manufacture of other organic basic chemicals - Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products:C2015 Manufacture of fertilisers and nitrogen compounds - Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products:C2016 Manufacture of plastics in primary forms - Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products:C2051 Manufacture of explosives - Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products:C2059 Manufacture of other chemical products n.e.c. - Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations:C2110 Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products - Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations:C2120 Manufacture of pharmaceutical preparations - Other manufacturing:C3299 Other manufacturing n.e.c. - Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply:D3521 Manufacture of gas - Remediation activities and other waste management services:E3900 Remediation activities and other waste management services - Warehousing and support activities for transportation:H5222 Service activities incidental to water transportation - Scientific research and development:M7211 Research and experimental development on biotechnology - Scientific research and development:M7219 Other research and experimental development on natural sciences and engineering - Education:P8542 Tertiary education - Activities of membership organisations:S9411 Activities of business and employers membership organisations - Activities of membership organisations:S9499 Activities of other membership organisations n.e.c.
Cross-sectoral industries
Environmental Industries
Industrial Alliances and Ecosystems
Alliances:Low carbon industries Ecosystems:Renewable Energy
Technology fields
B\: Performing operations; transporting:Nanotechnology - C\: Chemistry; metallurgy:Inorganic chemistry - C\: Chemistry; metallurgy:Treatment of water, waste water, sewage, or sludge - C\: Chemistry; metallurgy:Organic macromolecular compounds; their preparation or chemical working-up; compositions based thereon - Y\: General tagging of new technological developments:Technologies or applications for mitigation or adaptation against climate change
S3 EU priority areas
Aeronautics & space:Bio fuels & energy efficiency - Aeronautics & space:Safety & security - Aeronautics & space:Transport & logistics - Digital transformation:Cleaner environment & efficient energy networks and low energy computing - Digital transformation:Digitising Industry (Industry 4.0, smart and additive manufacturing) - KETs:Advanced manufacturing systems - KETs:Advanced materials - KETs:Industrial biotechnology - KETs:Nanotechnology - Public health & security:Public health & well-being - Public health & security:Public safety & pandemics - Service innovation:New or improved organisational models - Service innovation:New or improved service processes - Service innovation:New or improved service products (commodities or public services) - Social innovation:New products or services that meet social needs - Social innovation:Social innovation with regard to education, skills & training - Social innovation:Social innovation with regard to environmental issues - Sustainable innovation:Climate change - Sustainable innovation:Eco-innovations - Sustainable innovation:Resource efficiency - Sustainable innovation:Sustainable energy & renewables - Sustainable innovation:Sustainable land & water use - Sustainable innovation:Sustainable production & consumption - Sustainable innovation:Waste management


Support services provided

Access to finance: Public funding
Advisory Services
Facilitation of collaboration between members (within the cluster)
Facilitation of external collaboration (beyond cluster) such as matchmaking
Support of Research, Development and Innovation

Support services for upskilling and reskilling of companies workforce

Competence development - Talent Attraction

Support programmes

EU Programmes

Name & description

ESIF 2014-2020 Portugal:

  • POCI-01-0248-FEDER-027548 Aprofundamento e Dinamização do Cluster da Petroquímica, Química Industrial e Refinação
  • POCI-01-0248-FEDER-113489 Implementação de vetores estratégicos de atuação para melhoria da dinamização e competitividade do Cluster da Petroquímica, Química Industrial e Refinação
  • POCI-01-0247-FEDER-046117  Move2LowC: Combustíveis de Base Biológica

Project name

Cooperation activities

International cooperation

Targeted countries

United States
United Kingdom

Transnational cooperation

Targeted countries


Transnational support activites

Support to collaborative activities/etc. - Other

International support activites

Participation at missions/events/study visits/fairs

Connection to cluster organisation(s)

Profile name Location

Upcoming events

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

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