The Second Annual Forum of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) opened in Dubai on 12 December at the Grand Hyatt Dubai Hotel.The two-day event, which will deal with a range of challenges and opportunities in the region's petrochemical and chemical sectors, was inaugurated by GPCA Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Al- Mady, who is also Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). The Forum provides industry experts an opportunity to share key industry insights, experiences, and discuss the global economic outlook at a critical point in the chemical industry cycle.
Addressing the press on the opening day, Mr. Al-Mady said: 'We are confident that the flow of information and exchange of ideas over these two important days will be the basis for excellent networking opportunities and interaction between industry decision-makers and corporate leaders. While the First Annual GPCA Conference was a milestone for us, this year's conference will be a step towards consolidating on our firm foundation, reviewing our achievements during the last year and sharing our vision for the future'.
In his welcome speech on the opening day, Mr. Al-Mady expressed concern over the construction cost bubble that the region is currently experiencing. 'This, I believe is of great concern as capital costs for new projects have 'gone through the roof'. It makes it difficult to achieve acceptable financial targets when capital costs have risen so much. I believe this will lead to some project delays and probably some cancellations over the next few years. In time, this bubble will deflate, as it is not sustainable at present levels'.
'I believe our industry is approaching a period of overbuilding that is accompanied by weaker markets. Simultaneously, we may see slowing of the global economic growth that is driven by a slowdown in the GDP growth in the U.S. Our industry has experienced these periods of over capacity and slow growth numerous times in the past and has worked through them successfully and emerged stronger. I am certain we will do so once more.
'One of the greatest challenges facing the industry is the environmental and health sector of our society. The regulatory environment for the chemical industry is growing more intense. Increasingly government regulators are placing the burden upon chemical producers to provide proof that their products do not harm humans or the environment. This will require our industry to be more pro-active in the future than it has been in the past, and will call for a greater commitment of human and financial resources from our industry. I am confident that our industry can work its way through these issues and provide greater benefits to our society'.
Formed in March 2006, the GPCA has eight founding members including Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), EQUATE Petrochemical Co. (EQUATE), Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co. (GPIC), Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC), Qatar Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (QAPCO), Qatar Vinyl Co. Ltd. (QVC), National Industrialization Company (TASNEE), and Abu Dhabi Polymers Co. Ltd (Borouge).
The GPCA's landmark Second Annual Forum has attracted eminent industry personalities who will share their insights and experiences with some 750 delegates at the conference and exhibition, a near doubling in size from last year. The speakers comprise a remarkable line-up of industry leaders, including Mukesh Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director, Reliance Industries; Ray Wilcox, President & CEO, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company; Andrew Liveris, CEO, The Dow Chemical Company; Peter Huntsman, CEO, Huntsman Corporation; Stephanie A. Burns, Chairman, President & CEO, Dow Corning Corporation; Volker Trautz, President and CEO Bassel Polyolefins and Abdulrahman A. Al-Zamil, Director, Al-Zamil Group; Mohamed Al Mady, Vice Chairman & CEO, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and Hamad Al-Terkait, President & CEO, Equate Petrochemical Company (EQUATE) Kuwait.
The speakers will cover a range of topics including forging successful strategic petrochemical partnerships, exploring downstream opportunities beyond petrochemicals, talent management and the global challenge of attracting, developing and retaining talent in the chemical industry and the importance of the Middle East to a global corporate strategy.
Commenting on the positive response from the industry to the GPCA's initiatives, Mr. Abdullah Bin Zaid Al-Hagbani, Secretary General of the GPCA said: 'Top executives and experts are increasingly looking at the region as the centre of gravity for the global industry. Part of the reason for the Gulf's's prominence can be attributed to easy access to feedstock, access to the latest technology, and strategic location at the intersection of the Americas, Asia and the rest of the world. The GPCA is taking important steps to boost the region's petrochemicals sectors, and we want to enlighten professionals in our industry through networking events like this Forum, which is the biggest regional gathering of its kind. The response to our inaugural Forum was both gratifying and encouraging'.
The GPCA projects a surge in the export of petrochemicals from the Gulf at more than 50 million tons by 2008. By 2010, petrochemicals industries in the Gulf will grow by another 13%, research statistics revealed. Saudi Arabia, which represents about 80% of the GCC petrochemicals capacity, is rapidly emerging as a global 'hub' - and is expected to be one of the top four global producers within the next five years.
Since its inception, GPCA has crossed many significant milestones including conducting research on the petrochemicals and chemicals sector in the Gulf; organising dialogue between key stakeholders on issues related to industry growth, safety, environment, sustainable development and HR needs.