The Middle East region is building up its strength in the petrochemical sector to take advantage of availability of cheaper feedstocks and will continue to consolidate it's position in the next few years. As of now, Saudi Arabia is leading in petrochemical projects, but other countries in the region are also setting up new projects.
Saudi Arabia, with an abundance of petrochem feedstock and energy, plans to concentrate on boosting the petrochemical industry. The required raw materials and energy are available in large quantities in the oil-rich kingdom, which has issued 4 licenses for petrochemical projects worth US$4.6 billion (17.2 billion riyals).
These aimed to increase capacities of polyethylene, polypropylene, ethylene, polystyrene and other petrochemicals. These projects will increase Saudi share of petrochemical products on the international market and will pave the way for establishing plastic processing houses.
The Gulf region will become the world's largest producer as well as exporter of petrochemicals and plastics by 2005. The exports of ethylene-based products are forecast to grow from 5.7 million tons in 2001 to more than 11 million tons in 2006, while exports of propylene-based products are expected to increase from 450,000 tons in 2001 to 1.5 million tons in 2006. Annual exports of all petrochemical products from the AGCC are already above 30 million tons, expected to increase to over 40 million tons by the end of 2005.