Top 10 chemical companies in the Middle East and Africa

17 September 2010 17:47  [Source: ICB]

Our breakdown shows just how badly companies have been hit by the global economic downturn

Welcome to the second part of the ICIS Top 100 listing where we focus on emerging markets. Few chemical companies were immune from the worst economic crisis in a generation. Indeed, many regional players were hit particularly hard in 2009, as domestic demand collapsed and export markets faltered.

For full footnotes plus extra financial information such as capital expenditure see the main ICIS Top 100 listing



The Top 10 chemical producers in the Middle East and Africa are largely the same as in previous years, but the turmoil that hit global markets in late 2008 and 2009 has had an effect on sales and earnings for 2009 (see table).

Four companies in the region stand out and find a place in the global Top 100 listing compiled by ICIS. Saudi Arabia's SABIC is by far the largest chemical concern in the region, with sales of $27.48bn (€21.32bn), putting it seventh in global terms in 2009, as in 2008.

Other Top 100 representatives from the region are South Africa's Sasol, placed 41st in 2009, up from 57th in 2008 after a 10% increase in sales; Iran's National Petrochemical Co. (NPC), up to 44th from 55th, and Israel Chemical Ltd. (ICL), down to 67th from 58th in 2008, as turnover plummeted by 34%.

Sasol's rising turnover was largely the result of increased sales in its polymers business (+37%) from the new Arya Sasol Polymers complex in Iran, but solvents turnover was also up slightly.

ICL apart, which saw a severe slump in sales of potash and phosphate fertilizers, those companies most exposed to the petrochemical end of the industry suffered worst, with SABIC seeing sales down by 32% and earnings halved. The story is similar at Industries Qatar, which includes the subsidiaries Qatar Petrochemical (QAPCO) and Qatar Fertiliser (QAFCO), with sales down by 37%, and at Kuwait's Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC), which includes the Equate, Equipolymers and MEGlobal joint ventures with Dow Chemical, with sales down by 11%.

Turnover at Saudi Arabia's National Industrialization (TASNEE), however, increased by 8%, boosted by the start-up of the 1m tonne/year cracker and two polyethylene (PE) units of Saudi Ethylene and Polyethylene at Al-Jubail.

NPC managed just a slight 4% fall, again as new capacities compensated for falling volumes elsewhere and reduced prices, especially in the first half of 2009.

Increased production at SABIC was also a factor in its overall performance. Group sales in 2009 totaled 46m tonnes, an increase of 5%. The figure will increase even further in 2010 as new capacities at Sharq, Yansab and at Tianjin in China start to register.

New QAPCO and QAFCO projects will also see Industries Qatar holding onto its place - the company expects to double turnover by 2014. The Qatofin linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) project at Mesaieed and the Ras Laffan cracker both started operations in late 2009/early 2010. QAFCO is building two further fertilizer plants (QAFCO V for 2011 and VI for 2012) and investing in melamine and aqueous ammonia production.

A newcomer to our listings this year is Israel's Oil Refineries Ltd. (ORL) The figures in the table relate to its Carmel Olefins polymers and its Gadiv Petrochemical Industries aromatics businesses.

By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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