NPE '18: SABIC sees favourable investment climate, strong demand growth for plastics

Source: ICIS News

2018/05/07

ORLANDO (ICIS)--Strong demand growth for polyolefins in the coming years is driving a favourable investment climate, especially in North America, SABIC executives said on Monday.

“We see global GDP growth trending higher, and petrochemical demand is growing at rates in excess of GDP in many cases,” said Abdulrahman S Al-Fageeh, executive vice president, Petrochemicals at SABIC.

He and Greg Adams, vice president, Americas, made their comments on the sidelines of the National Plastics Exposition (NPE).

“Polyolefins are an international growth market. In North America, we think that fresh investments in rebuilding infrastructure will spur additional demand for polyolefins. There are many older buildings still using clay or steel pipes that could make the switch over to plastic piping," Adams said.

SABIC separately announced at NPE that it had developed some new technologies to expand possible applications for polypropylene (PP) pipes.

Adams and Al-Fageeh said that North America is an attractive for petrochemical investments.

SABIC has formed a joint venture with ExxonMobil to build a world-scale largest ethane cracker in San Patricio County, Texas. The cracker will have an ethylene capacity of 1.8m  tonnes/year. It will feed a downstream ethylene glycol (EG) unit, along with two downstream polyethylene (PE) units.

Adams and Al-Fageeh said that the new cracker is slated to start up in late 2021 or 2022. The company did not divulge the slate of PE products that would be produced by the downstream units.

Adams and Al-Fageeh added that SABIC already operates two joint ventures with ExxonMobil in Saudi Arabia, both of which are operated by SABIC. The new joint venture in Texas will be operated by ExxonMobil.

Touching on SABIC’s expansion plans in North America, Adams said: “We are currently in the scoping and design phase for a regional head office for North and South America to be based in Katy, Texas, which will also include a petrochemical innovation hub.”

Al-Fageeh added: “We have set ambitious growth targets for North America and aim to double our manufacturing footprint in North America within the next five years, growing our sales to the region from 3m tonnes to 6m tonnes annually by 2022.”

Sponsored by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), NPE2018: The Plastics Show takes place on 7-11 May in Orlando, Florida.

Interview article by Zachary Moore