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Petrochemicals industry in the Gulf to get US$55 bln infusion

Petrochemicals industry in the Gulf to get US$55 bln infusion

Annual petrochemicals production of the Gulf countries is expected to spike by almost 46% to 155 mln tpa by 2015, up from the current 105 mln according to a report by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA). The region's current production represents about 16% of the total 700 mln tons worldwide petrochemicals output. By 2015, the Gulf states will contribute a fifth (20%) of the global output, requiring potential investments to the tune of US$55 bln (Dh201.85 bln). Production of petrochemicals is growing at an annual compound growth rate of 12%. By 2015, the production in this region of polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and polystyrene will double to reach more than 23.6 mln tons vs 13.5 mln tons of 2010- a staggering 75% increase. Fertilisers absorb 28% of the petrochemicals output while basic petrochemicals use 37%, polymers sector absorb 20% and the rest 15% are used by intermediaries. The Gulf region currently produces over 25 mln tons of plastic resins annually out of which close to 3 mln tons is converted into finished and semi-finished industrial and consumer plastic products.
Gulf Petrochemical Industry
Growth in Petrochemical Production Capacities
2009 2015 Estimate
Product Gulf World Gulf Share % Products Gulf World Gulf Share %

Ethylene

16.8 133.5 12.6 Ethylene 32.0 156.5 20.5

PE

10.7 83.0 12.9 PE 20.3 113 18

MEG

6.00 23.3 26.0 MEG 10.8 37.9 28.5

Propylene

5.1 87.5 5.8 Propylene 10.1 105 9.6

PP

5.05 54.4 10.8 PP 9.5 73 13
Figures in million tons/annum (MTPA)
Source: GPCA Dwynn Ronald V. Trazo/© Gulf News
The Gulf region has a geographical advantage in the global petrochemical business as it houses the world's largest hydrocarbon resources and is in proximity to the Asian markets, specially China, India and the Far East that are becoming the largest consumers. This region currently exports 55% of it�s petrochemicals to China and the Far East. However, the industry in this region might face challenges regarding technology and shortages of local skills. Availability of skilled manpower has been another issue that has plagued projects. And a related problem has been juggling different cultures and work ethics as Middle East companies increasingly rely on a mix of local and global talent. As per ICIS, on the feedstock front, gas availability has become tight in many of the countries as strong economic growth has seen demand grow faster than supply. A cut in oil production following the 2008 economic crisis has also constrained availability of associated gas, which has affected operations at some petrochemical plants. For new projects, finding ethane has become a challenge. Available supplies have been allotted and companies have to wait for new gas processing projects to be completed for additional volumes. In the case of Qatar, more ethane is likely to be available only after a moratorium on new gas-based projects is lifted in 2014. Another concern for companies planning new crackers in the region is the cost of gas. Saudi Arabia's ethane price (US$0.75/MMBtu) and the discounts offered on propane and butane supplies are widely expected to be revised next year.
The Abu Dhabi government announced development of a US$20 bln Chemical City in 2010. Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are investing billions of dollars in expanding output capacity. As a result, Jubail Industrial City and Ruwais in Saudi Arabia are becoming major centres. Middle East governments have been pushing companies to expand their derivatives slate to capture the full petrochemical value chain. And a wider feedstock slate is helping project planners achieve this objective. The next step going forward would be to let the private sector investment in downstream processing industries.
Saudi Arabia is the region's largest producer of petrochemicals, representing about 50% of the region's total petrochemical output while Iran produces 27%, Qatar exports 9%, Oman and Qatar produce 5% each while the UAE and Bahrain produce 3% and 1% respectively. The UAE currently produces 3.4 mln tpa- expected to more than double to 7.8 mln, while Iran plans to raise production to 41.9 mln by 2015, from the current level of 28.4 mln. Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer, plans to raise output to 70 mln by 2015 from the current production level of 53.2 mln.
 
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