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Feedstock innovation 'key to GCC petchem future'

Dubai, October 29, 2013

Continued innovation in feedstock supply is the key to ensuring the continued development of petrochemicals sector in the GCC region, said a leading expert ahead of a key industry event.

The history and growth of the Gulf’s petrochemicals sector has been underpinned by advancements in feedstock supply, stated Dr Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, the secretary general of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), with the sector’s growth aided by ready access to favourably priced natural gas from the Gulf’s abundant hydrocarbon reserves.  

“In the early 1970s, most of the associated natural gas - the kind found in petroleum deposits - was flared as the technologies to convert this fuel into liquefied natural gas had not been developed at that time and export was economically unfeasible,” explained Dr Sadoun.

“When the petrochemicals industry began developing in the GCC a few years later, flaring was eliminated as this sector uses associated gas as a raw material. This demonstrates how the Gulf’s petrochemical industry has always had an innovative approach,” he added.

Feedstock innovation will be explored by industry leaders at the upcoming GPCA Annual Forum in Dubai which runs from November 19 to 21.

Held on the theme “Innovation: The foundation for chemical value chain leadership”, the keynote speech will be delivered by Stephen Pryor, the president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, who will focus on the development of the petrochemicals industry through innovations in feedstock supply that have led to lower cost feedstock in the US and subsequently to the revival of the US chemical industry.

Over 1,700 delegates from over 49 countries will hear insights from more than 15 speakers at the forum, now in its eighth year. The plenary address will be delivered by Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salaman Al Saud, from the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.

Providing insight on the next steps for the regional petrochemical industry, James Gallogly, the CEO of LyondellBasell, will present the company’s perspective on the American shale gas revolution during the Annual Forum.

The GPCA chief pointed out that the medium term outlook for the GCC’s petrochemicals industry was positive. Petrochemicals capacity in the Gulf reached 127.5 million tons last year, and the GPCA estimates that this will grow to 134.5 million tons by 2016.

However, analysts have warned of a slowdown in growth due to the availability of cheaper feedstock in the US due to the shale gas boom. Projections from the US Energy Information Administration have shown that the US has shale gas reserves of up to 665 trillion cubic feet.

Meanwhile, shale gas reserves of 1,115 trillion cubic feet have also been found in China, however, the country has yet to exploit the production of this resource.

“GCC petrochemicals producers are likely to see sustained growth however, global markets will become more competitive in the near future,” remarked Dr Sadoun.

“The only way to realize the sector’s growth potential and to keep up with the competition is to innovate - we need to figure out how to do more, with less,” he added.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: petrochemical | GCC | industry |

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