InterviewMiddle East to continue driving chem construction

14 July 2009 20:55  [Source: ICIS news]

Middle East to drive constructionBy Ivan Lerner

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--The Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, will continue being a hotspot for chemical-industry-related engineering and construction (E&C) projects, an executive with US contractor Fluor said on Tuesday.

“Large chemical producers are all looking at the Middle East because of the access to cheaper feedstocks,” said Ivor Harrington, Fluor’s senior vice president for chemicals.

Because North American and European chemical markets are challenged right now, some projects in those regions are either down or delayed, he noted.

“But the company’s largest opportunities are still in petrochemicals and especially in Saudi Arabia,” Harrington said.

“Companies like SABIC and Saudi Aramco still have huge projects going on,” he added.

Asia, specifically China, is also providing growth, with some “big programmes”, as are Russia and eastern Europe, although to a lesser extent, Harrington said.

Moreover, mega-projects are still being built, according to Fluor. “Some of the sizes of these projects are unbelievable,” Harrington said.

Such mega-projects, which start at $1bn [€720m], are now running $3bn-10bn each, he said.

In addition to petrochemicals, Fluor is being contracted to construct more polysilicon plants, “mainly in the Middle East”, Harrington said, with some in China and Russia.

“These are all large projects, quite sizeable, and with proven companies,” he said.

Polysilicon is the key raw material for photovoltaic cells.

Polysilicon projects accounted for 35% of Fluor’s $5bn chemicals backlog at the end of 2008. Company sales in 2008 were $22.3bn, an increase of 33.5% over 2007.

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Ivan Lerner
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