28 November 2012 12:25 [Source: ICIS news]
DUBAI (ICIS)--The Gulf’s total petrochemical capacity will increase by 19.4% from 2011 to 145m-146m tonnes/year in 2016, with new capacities concentrating on performance chemicals, a member of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) committee said on Wednesday.
The shift in focus to performance chemicals is because of the change of feedstock from natural gas to a mixed feed of heavy liquids, GPCA secretary general Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun said to ICIS at the 7th Annual GPCA Forum in Dubai.
The overall petrochemicals capacity in the Gulf grew by 10% year on year to 121m tonnes/year in 2011, largely boosted by the 11m tonnes/year of new capacity commissioned by major producers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“The [Gulf] region still sees growth in new [petrochemical] capacity, mainly in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar,” Al-Sadoun said.
With feedstock no longer being just ethane-based, the use of mixed feeds will generate other by-products such as butadiene (BD) and aromatics, he said.
He added that the key objective now is to utilise such by-products and create other opportunities through the production of their derivatives, such as butyl rubber and ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM).
Besides building more of such petrochemical plants, global majors such as SABIC and Exxon plan to set up vocational institutes for the rubber downstream sectors in the Gulf, to encourage international rubber manufacturers to come in to invest and/or form partnerships to build downstream rubber facilities in the region, Al-Sadoun said.
“Although the [Gulf] region’s domestic demand is small compared to the actual production in the region, petrochemical producers are planning, encouraging or even creating the downstream clusters to consume the petrochemical products,” he said.
“The key growth in consumption in the region will continue to be seen in Saudi Arabia because of the already available domestic demand,” Al-Sadoun said.
With more effort going into downstream products, more jobs will be created to meet the young demographics in the region, Al-Sadoun added.
The start-up and expansion of regional port facilities are also planned in the Gulf to cater to the growing petrochemical capacity, he said.
“Both the Dammam port in Saudi Arabia and Jebel Ali port in United Arab Emirates (UAE) are expanding,” he added.
Saudi Arabia will have a new port at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), 30km from Rabigh, which is located north of Jeddah. The port will relieve the heavy traffic flow at Jeddah port.
The KAEC seaport is scheduled to be operational in early 2013.
The 7th GPCA conference is a three-day event ending on 29 November.
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