By John Richardson
ONE of the many factors behind petrochemicals supply being less than expected during 2010 has been logistics problems in Saudi Arabia.
One trader we spoke to on the sidelines of last month's Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) conference in Dubai told us that one particular complex was struggling to accurately complete documentation necessary for letters of credit.
"This is down to a lack of experienced staff - a major issue throughout the region," he said.
The trader is now helping the company concerned to complete paperwork in the right way.
An industry observer said that it takes an average of 17 days to clear a container from Saudi Arabia. This compares with an Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of ten days.
The container port at Jeddah. Source of picture - Saudi government website.
"Part of the problem is constantly changing rules and regulations leading to confusion over paperwork and lack of system integration for clearance," he added.
Port delays have resulted in on-site storage running out, forcing operators to stack resin in the desert, he added.
Bringing on-stream all the new capacities in the Middle East was always going to be challenge - because of the number and the size of the plants.
But what nobody predicted was the extent of technical problems that have held back production, along with an equally unexpected shortage of feedstock.
Logistics is a further wild card thrown into the pack, making the task of assessing likely volume-flows from the Middle East in 2011 even harder.