05 April 2013 02:00 [Source: ICIS news]
By Muhamad Fadhil
SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Specialty and performance plastics products will likely help stimulate the growth of new downstream industries as they can create opportunities for Middle Eastern companies, said Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).
The emergence of new polymer products or performance polymers will boost new downstream industries such as rubber, acrylic and polyurethane (PU) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, according to Al-Sadoun.
“Specialty products are niche, but they can create value,” Al-Sadoun told ICIS in an exclusive interview ahead of the fourth GPCA Plastics Summit on 7-9 April in Dubai.
However, despite the potential of specialty and performance plastics products, Al-Sadoun said gaining access to proprietary technology would present a challenge to plastic makers, particularly those in developing industries.
Proprietary technology refers to a technical process developed by any given company. After patenting the process, the company can use it exclusively or profit from licensing the technology to other parties.
“The market in the region for specialty products is very small. Normally, those industries are located closer to the customers … [so] cost is not the barrier,” Al-Sadoun said.
“Specialty chemicals are not as capital-intensive as commodity petrochemicals; it is the technology [that is the barrier],” he added.
To cope with the emerging demand for plastics in the region, Al-Sadoun said an additional 5m tonnes of resins will be available by 2016 with new plant capacity expansions in the region.
“The GCC plastic resin capacity in 2012 was 24m tonnes,” Al-Sadoun said, adding that 82% of the output was exported overseas, while 18% was consumed within the region. The GCC region comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to Al-Sadoun, the Plastics Innovation Awards will be one of the highlights of this year’s GPCA Plastics conference. The award was launched to recognise innovation, excellence and creativity in the technology of plastic conversion as well as how companies overcome obstacles to succeed in this field.
GPCA has also set up an innovation committee, comprising leaders in research and development sectors as well as counterparts from the academia to help companies grow.
“The idea is to develop a roadmap [of] what needs to be done to uplift innovation technologies,” the GPCA secretary general said.
For companies to succeed in this industry, Al-Sadoun said they will need to effectively identify the avenues for growth within the Middle East as well as around the world.
“Companies can create value through targeting [growth] opportunities either regionally or globally,” he said, adding that investing in all aspects of innovation is a necessity.
It’s about “creating an innovation culture, developing the human capital and ensuring that the supply chain is optimised” as well, Al-Sadoun said.
Despite the advancements in innovation, Al-Sadoun said stakeholders in the plastics industry will need to put in more effort in their waste management processes.
“Recycling is something we are championing in the GPCA,” Al-Sadoun said. “We recycle less than 8% [of] waste. We will [need to] do more to bring awareness and legislation to address this challenge.”
According to Al-Sadoun, the GPCA aims to support the sustainable growth of the petrochemical industries in the Middle East.
The trade association was formed in 2006 by eight founding members: SABIC, National Industrialization Co (TASNEE), Qatar Petrochemical Co (QAPCO), Qatar Vinyl Co (QVC), Borouge, Gulf Petrochemicals Industries Co (GPIC), Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) and EQUATE.
The annual GPCA Plastics Summit, also known as the GPCA PlastCon 2013, will focus on challenges and developments in plastic conversion in the Middle East. More than 350 delegates attended the conference in 2012.
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