Middle East basic petchem expansion to drive diversification

08 June 2010 19:02  [Source: ICIS news]

ABU DHABI (ICIS news)--A massive expansion in basic petrochemicals capacity in the Middle East will stimulate rapid growth in the olefins and aromatics product chains within the next five years, GPCA (Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association) secretary general Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Middle East Petrochemical 2010 conference, Al-Sadoun said a significant increase in the share of propylene, benzene and paraxylene in total Gulf petrochemicals output would stimulate growth in the underdeveloped propylene and aromatics value chains.

The GPCA projected that the combined share of methanol and ethylene output out of total basic petrochemicals production would fall to 58% in 2015 from 79% a decade ago, Al-Sadoun said.

More downstream projects would also come online from 2009-2015, he added. Among them, ethylene glycol production would grow by 80%, while both polyethylene terephthalic (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) output would more than double, Al-Sadoun predicted.

The diversification drive would intensify as a result of the increased availability of a new set of basic petrochemicals, he said.

The downstream sectors would also be greatly encouraged by the first-time introduction of products such as nylon chips, polycarbonate and acrylics, among others, according to Al-Sadoun.

The Middle East petrochemical industry had been moving away from gas-based production towards using liquid feedstocks such as naphtha, he explained, citing the Chemaweyaat cracking complex in Abu Dhabi as an example.

"The days of supplying petrochemical complexes with 100% ethane are over," Al-Sadoun said.

In 1981, the commissioning of Qatar Petrochemical Company’s (QAPCO) ethylene/polyethylene (PE) plant marked the beginning of a rapid growth in petrochemical projects around the Gulf region, he said.

During the first phase of its development, the industry used gases - mainly ethane and methane - as feedstock, but no allocation of feedstocks or projects, particularly for ethane, in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states were available after 2015, according to Al-Sadoun.

“There are alternatives to be explored,” he said, adding that cracking more liquid feedstocks would be a positive development for underdeveloped product chains in the Gulf region.

The two-day Middle East Petrochemicals 2010 conference, organised by business media publisher MEED, ends on Tuesday.

For more on aromatics and olefins visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Yu Guo
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