Gulf petrochemical industry outpaces global growth

TASNEE 001TASNEE Petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia. (Image source: Secl/Commons)The petrochemical industry in the Gulf region grew by 3.7 per cent in 2016, largely due to new capacity added in Saudi Arabia, according to an annual study by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA)

The figures emerged from ‘Arabian Gulf Industry Year in Review’, part of the GPCA’s recently released Annual Report, which notes that the region outpaced the global average growth of 2.2 per cent to reach 150 million tons of capacity, of which Saudi Arabia accounted for 66 per cent.

While the report highlights a fall from the Gulf chemical industry’s growth rate of five per cent in 2015, due in part to feedstock supply constraints and global economic uncertainty, ‘transformational’ new, highly complex projects in the region, such as the US$ 20 bn Sadara Chemical joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow, and the KEMYA Elastomer Plant, an affiliate of SABIC and ExxonMobil Chemicals, point to a positive medium-term outlook for growth.

“The regional industry continues to grow healthily by integrating new technologies, building better strategic partnerships and navigating smartly around global economic uncertainties,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general, GPCA.

“The region continues to make significant investments in greenfield plant operations, as well as brownfield efficiency gains as GCC producers, explore new and often unconventional sources of feedstock to drive chemical output. Apart from advancing investment and innovation in the industry, the multibillion-dollar project announcements, new technologies and capacity addition have contributed to a surge in job opportunities.” 

In 2016, projects worth US$13bn were announced in the region, coming online between 2020 and 2024 and adding eight million tons of production capacity. The projects could contribute to as many as 4,000 new jobs, according to the report.

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