Manama : Abdulaziz F. Al-Khayyal, senior vice president of Refining, Marketing and International, told a recently held conference audience in Manama that as Saudi Arabia expands its petrochemical industries, "numerous other industries also flourish," not just in Saudi Arabia, but in the world.

"That could make the Kingdom a major player in the world economy for something other than oil."


Al-Khayyal made these remarks in a keynote address at the Chemical Market Associates Inc. (CMAI) and Purvin and Gertz Conference on "Energy as the Lifeblood of the Petrochemical Industry: The Future Role of the Middle East Region."


After discussing growing oil demand, peak-oil theories and other topics, he turned his attention to the outlook for the petrochemical industry and its importance, not only to the Middle East"s aspirations, but also in the rest of the world.


"The impact of the petrochemical sector is greatest in terms of both value addition and job creation in the downstream segment and the fabrication of finished products," he said. But chemicals also are required as raw materials in a wide range of other industries.


"As such," he said, "the chemical sector is an enabling industry, which underpins virtually all other sectors of the economy, meaning that as the petrochemical and chemical sector develops and expands, numerous other industries also flourish."


Although the $1.7 trillion chemical industry is a global business dominated by the EU, Japan and the United States, Al-Khayyal said the Middle East can become a leading contributor.


"What we have to offer … is the fuel and feedstock that constitute the lifeblood of the petrochemical industry," Al-Khayyal said.


"The Middle East region boasts abundant supplies of competitively priced gas and liquids, meaning reduced costs for petrochemical facilities as well as lower costs of electric power generation. These low energy costs constitute a tremendous competitive advantage, particularly in an energy-intensive business like petrochemicals."


Al-Khayyal pointed to Saudi Aramco"s groundbreaking integration of refining and petrochemicals through its PetroRabigh joint venture, formed with Sumitomo Chemical of Japan.


And since then, the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dow Chemical Co. for a similar venture at Ras Tanura.


Al-Khayyal said that just as the Middle East has come to be a leading power in crude oil and natural gas, it will "also assume a much higher profile in the petrochemical sector. In fact, I think we are already witnessing the beginning of a paradigm shift as petrochemical investments in the region start to accelerate."


He said he could find no reason the chemical industry in general, and the petrochemical industry in particular, could not and should not play a much more significant role in the region"s economic development than they do today, and contribute more substantially to both job creation and value addition than at present.


"Given the Middle East"s abundant oil and gas resources, its existing hydrocarbon production and processing infrastructure, and the slate of additional oil, gas and refining projects which will be coming on stream in the decade to come, our region"s distinct energy advantage will only grow in time," Al-Khayyal noted.


"Let us then work together to ensure that the petrochemical industry, and the many benefits that it brings, will grow right alongside."



News Code 105174

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