19 March 2012 00:00 [Source: ICB]
On 13-15 December last year, close to 1,600 delegates gathered at the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm in Dubai, for the Middle East's flagship petrochemical event, the Sixth Annual GPCA Forum. The figure represents 20% growth over the 2011 attendance level.
Prince Faisal Bin Turki Al-Saud, advisor, Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia, praised the theme of the Forum - "Moving downstream - Creating added value and sustainable growth" - calling it the defining challenge of the regional petrochemicals industry.
"Sustainable value-creating opportun-ities lie downstream and are linked to the development of industrial clusters across the region"
Prince Faisal bin Turki al-Saud
Adviser, Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia
In his keynote speech, he gave an overview of the evolution of the industry and shared promising growth figures and successes. But he urged regional players to focus on increasing their supplies to the local conversion industry.
"Exporting the vast majority of the petrochemical production means jobs are being created elsewhere and this is a growing concern. With a fast growing, well-educated population who want jobs, successful economic diversification and downstream expansion have become a necessity.
"This is needed to attract wider industrial investment to create the sustainable growth necessary to meet the aspirations of the next, and future, generations. Much of this will be focused on creating and capturing the value that is currently captured by the region's export customers," said Prince Faisal.
He went on to focus on Saudi Arabia, calling this the "golden era" for the Kingdom, with production expected to grow to 100m tonnes by 2016, a 250% growth since 2006. The future is looking bright, he said, with 120 new chemical and petrochemical products coming into the market.
"Sustainable value-creating opportunities lie downstream and are linked to the development of industrial clusters across the region, particularly those being established to provide materials for the automotive, flexible packaging and appliances sectors," he added.
Mohamed Al-Mady, chairman of GPCA and vice chairman and CEO of SABIC, opened the conference with a focus on "environmentally friendly" options. The industry must produce products that enable the entire production chain to be sustainable, he noted.
Al-Mady: his speech focused on environmentally friendly options
He mentioned that the chemical industry has a very long history of innovation, started during the 8th century by a scientist from the Middle East, Jabir bin Hayaan, who is considered by many to be the father of chemistry. He discovered many important substances and processes.
"The Gulf petrochemical and chemical industry stands at an historic crossroads", said Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of the GPCA, in his opening remarks on Day 2. "Behind it lies three decades of exceptionally successful growth; leveraging advantaged feedstocks, economies of scale, integration and world-leading process technology to build a vibrant, influential and highly profitable petrochemical industry that is the envy of many others
"Times are, however, changing. Feedstock is less accessible, refinery/petrochemical integration more essential and prevalent, added value more essential and markets less certain.
"This year's Forum program has been conceptualized as a platform for industry leaders to showcase opportunities that exist to capture much of the added value that is currently exported, and to create the building blocks for major downstream conversion industries offering rewarding and sustainable employment opportunities for the local youth," he added.
The Day 2 keynote address, "Leveraging natural resources to develop downstream industries", was given by Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi, deputy chairman, Qatar Petroleum. Using recent and projected growth figures for the Middle East's share of global capacity, Mohannadi highlighted challenges and opportunities in the region.
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