Dubai hosts the first Gulf forum

04 December 2006 00:00  [Source: ICB Americas]

The newly formed Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemical Producers Association's first annual conference will debate the hottest topics facing the Middle East

LATER THIS month, petrochemical producers, traders and logistics operators will meet in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for the first annual forum of the newly created Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemical Producers Association (GPCA). The meeting, to be attended by 400 delegates, will take its place in the annual calendar alongside North America's NPRA conference in March, Asia's APIC event in May, Europe's EPCA meeting in September, and Latin America's APLA event in November.

Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Hagbani, secretary general of GPCA, which was formed earlier this year, comments, "The outlook for our industry has never been stronger, particularly when one focuses on massive liquidity in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region combined with the obvious commercial advantages of hydrocarbon production." But, he adds, "We need to address a number of important issues in order to improve our market position and further strengthen our reputation as one of the world's most important regions for both petrochemical production and consumption."

Al Hagbani expects the new forum, taking place on December 16-17, will prove an excellent platform from which to analyze the issues. A strong lineup of speakers will offer their expertise and views on these issues, which surround feedstocks, the continued rapid buildup of investment in the region, the need to enhance logistics and infrastructure to cope with burgeoning export volumes, and the encouragement of downstream user industries in Middle East countries.

Speakers and session chairmen do not come just from local companies, such as SABIC, Saudi Aramco, Equate and Qapco, but global operators, such as ExxonMobil Chemicals, Shell Chemicals and Borealis, many of which have long-established partnerships in the Middle East. They will also be addressing environmental, health and safety issues, and technology and research topics.

The GPCA was conceived in 2004 by its founding members (see GPCA Founder Companies) who wanted to form a dedicated and nonprofit association serving members with a variety of data, technical assistance and resources. The organization was officially launched on March 1, 2006 in Dubai, with the stated aim to "be the regional voice of the Gulf's petrochemicals and chemical industry in noncommercial activities, and to serve as the regional platform for information exchange." It will identify and facilitate common interests of its members and "assure the harmonious and sustainable growth of the sector in the region."

The GPCA chairman, SABIC's Mohamed Al-Mady, says, "The petrochemical industry in the Gulf region broke new ground with the launch of GPCA. With the formation of the GPCA, I see the dawn of a new era of cooperation among our members, associated vendors, government bodies and our customers."

GPCA members enter the global stage

The creation of a petrochemical association for the Middle East Gulf states is long overdue. But now also seems an appropriate time to set one up, as investment in the region is booming, and the leading players are all becoming actors on the global chemicals stage.

SABIC has set the lead, with its acquisitions in Europe, first of DSM's petrochemicals operations in the Netherlands and Germany, and now those of Huntsman in the UK (formerly ICI assets).

But there are other examples emerging, notably the Petrochemical Industries Co. and Dow Chemical deal to create two joint ventures: MEGlobal, for global production and marketing of monoethylene glycol (MEG), and Equipolymer, for purified terephthalic acid/polyethylene tephthalate (PTA/PET) in Europe.

Others will no doubt follow, as Middle East companies achieve added scale through their investments. Although not part of GPCA, Iran's National Petrochemical Co. is also showing signs of emerging as an international player, with a failed bid for Basell being followed with agreements with Venezuela and China.

Middle East executives have been in regular attendance as delegates, and in some cases, speakers, at the established regional petrochemical meetings such as EPCA and NPRA. But now they will have their own forum in which to discuss issues that are particularly pertinent to the region, building on from the previous biannual Marichem meetings that used to serve in this role.

Notable issues facing the region are feedstock availability and pricing, current constraints on project execution, logistics and infrastructure availability, and the development of downstream industries in the Gulf countries. Improvement in this area is necessary to boost domestic demand and create much-needed jobs in these countries. Funding of projects seems to be of little issue as there is huge liquidity in the region's banking and capital markets, so much so that there is currently a move in Saudi Arabia to publicly list many of the current projects, with initial public offerings attracting plenty of interest.

It will be interesting to see how GPCA tackles many of these issues, and to see how it grows through wider membership. The nucleus is certainly there and the founding members have moved rapidly since the official creation of the association this year to put together a major international event. Critical mass is now needed to give the initiative greater momentum.

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SABIC, Saudi Arabia
Equate Petrochemical Co., Kuwait
Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC), Kuwait
National Petrochemical Industrialization Co. (Tasnee), Saudi Arabia
Qatar Petrochemicals Co. (Qapco), Qatar
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co. (GPIC), Bahrain
Borouge, Abu Dhabi
Qatar Vinyl Co. (QVC), Qatar


Hamad Al-Terkait, president and CEO, Equate (GPCA vice chairman)
Saad Al-Shuwaib, chairman and managing director, PIC
Moayyed Al-Qurtas, vice chairman and deputy CEO, Tasnee
Hamad Al-Mohannadi, vice chairman and general manager, Qapco
Abdulrahman Al Jawahery, general manager, GPIC
Hubert Puchner, chief executive, Borouge
Hamad Rashed Al-Naimi, general manager, QVC
Mohamed Al-Mady, vice chairman and CEO, SABIC (GPCA chairman)



Represent the common interests of the Gulf region's petrochemicals and chemicals industry
Compile, share and exchange resources, knowledge, opinions and experience
Assist and encourage new scientific research and studies
Promote human resource development
Organize industrial conferences, seminars and exhibitions
Act as an industry spokesperson
Issue reports and analytical market studies
Promote understanding of the industry's contribution to economic, environmental and social progress

For more information on GPCA and the 1st GPCA annual forum - development and opportunities in the GCC's petro- chemical and chemical sectors, go to WWW.GPCA.ORG.AE


By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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