In order to make use of Egypt's extensive natural gas reserves which will serve as the cornerstone of the emerging industry, Egypt has development plans in the petrochem sector on the cards. Currently, Egypt's petrochemical industry generates annual revenues to the tune of US$7 billion. Under the ambitious plan US$10 billion worth of investment will be pumped into 14 new petrochemical complexes in the governorates of Behira, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Damietta, Daqahlia, Ismailia and Suez over the next two decades. The new projects will join 5 other petrochemical plants established as natural gas discoveries emerged, and have since been growing steadily over the last decade.
A 20-year, three-phase plan to develop the petrochemical industry was announced last week by the Egyptian Petrochemical Holding Company (Echem). Echem has also finalised a US$450 million contract with the Oriental Petrochemical Company (OPC) establishing the Egyptian Company for Propylene and Polypropylene, with a capacity to produce 350,000 tpa of polypropylene. OPC, Egypt's only manufacturer of polypropylene, currently exports 10% of its production to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Egypt's location gives it a comparative advantage when it comes to exporting to Asia and Europe.