SABIC and NPC push growth in Middle East Top 10

22 September 2008 11:25  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--Iran's NPC and Saudi Arabia's SABIC produced the strongest growth in sales among the leading chemical companies in the Middle East and Africa, ICIS Chemical Business said on Monday in its latest regional chemicals listing.

For all the fuss over the huge increases in petrochemical capacity in the Middle East, few major companies are located in the region, it added.

Many plants are single cracker-based joint ventures (JVs), albeit with some moving to expand with their second cracker units. Many other players form small parts or JVs of state-held oil companies, as in Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Oman.

SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corp) and NPC (National Petrochemical Co) are the only two petrochemical producers from the region to feature in the ICIS overall Top 100, published by ICB on 15 September.

The next largest player is Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC) of Kuwait, with sales of $1.9bn, made up largely through its Equate, Equipolymer and MEGlobal JVs with US-based Dow Chemical.

In specialty chemicals, Israel provides two major players. Israel Chemicals Ltd ranked 80th in the Top 100, with sales of $4.1bn, and agrochemical producer Makhteshim-Agan has sales of $2.1bn.

South Africa's Sasol and AECI are two major players in the extended Middle East and Africa region. Sasol was 57th, with sales of $6.7bn, while AECI had sales of $1.7bn.

Two other firms have emerged into the limelight by publishing their financial figures: Qatar Petrochemical Co (Qapco), with sales of $740m and Saudi International Petrochemical (Sipchem) of Saudi Arabia, with sales of $400m.

But beyond this, financial transparency on chemical operations is lacking.

SABIC and NPC have seen sales climb through increased production after intense capital investment and steeply rising selling prices. This looks set to continue. Sipchem also stands to boost sales in 2009 and in 2013, as the private Saudi firm brings phases 2-3 of its investment programme on stream.

PIC has new ethylene and derivatives capacity coming on stream soon, and will be forming a JV with Dow that will take in much of the latter's commodity petrochemicals business.

The JV - K-Dow Petrochemicals - will be based in the US and thus not boost PIC's reported sales figures.

The Middle East & Africa Top 10 regional listing, published in the latest issue of ICB, forms parts of the ICIS Top 100 analysis.

You can download the top 100 table here.

Top 10 Middle East & Africa chemical companies by sales ($m)

Company name Sales '07 % Change to '06* Operating profit '07 % Change to '06* Net profit '07 % Change to '06*
SABIC 33,724 46.2 10,968 33.2 7,221 33.4
NPC 8,388 69.8 1,184 71.6 235 -15.0
Sasol 6,708 19.2 282 n/a - -
Israel Chemicals Ltd. 4,100 25.8 715 33.4 536 43.3
Makhteshim-Agan 2,081 17.0 288 41.2 178 111.9
PIC*** 1,902 3.2 231** -26.7 496 -7.2
AECI 1,661 11.0 118 -27.0 67 -50.0
Qapco 740 23.6 572** 33.2 388 35.7
Sipchem 400 15.4 239 15.9 159 20.2
Sonatrach**** 223 -3.9 - - - -
 *in local currencies **gross profit ***year ended March 2007 ****ENIP plus argon JV na not available  source: company data

You can download the table of top 10 Middle East Players here.

By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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