By Ben DuBose
HOUSTON -- The next step in the evolution of the Middle East
petrochemical sector will be
expanding beyond olefins, aromatics and chlorine and into
specialty chemicals and performance polymers, an industry
executive said Wednesday.
Speaking at the IHS World Petrochemical Conference, Dr.
Moayyed Al-Qurtas, vice chairman of The National
Industrialization Company of Saudi Arabia, better known as
Tasnee, told attendees that new projects have become considerably
more sophisticated and demanding.
New products and technologies are being introduced which
include more sophisticated chemicals and are not limited to
commodities, Dr. Al-Qurtas said.
The region could be a good base for selected
intermediate, specialty chemicals and export-oriented
downstream plastics, he added.
Dr. Al Qurtas cited three regional complexes as examples of
this philosophy -- Tasnees Al-Jubail complex that began
in 2004, Sabics Saudi Keyan project launched in 2009, and the
Sadara Chemicals venture of Aramco and Dow Chemical slated to
start up in 2014.
As a result, over the next five years, he envisions the
Middle East industry realizing its potential in specialty
chemicals like flame retardants, formulated specialties such as
water treatment chemicals and lubricants, performance polymers
like engineering plastics, and services including
logistics/shipping and wastewater treatment.
This will stimulate downstream industries, Dr.
Al-Qurtas said. Were seeing a significant capacity
buildup in the pipeline, increasing the [Middle East] share in
global production and trade.
He cited Middle East competitive advantages such as
world-scale plants and modern technology, proximity to export
markets, and world-class infrastructure as development
In addition, growth in the region and neighboring countries
is far higher than mature economies such as Europe.
Demographic trends are favorable and expected to continue,
Dr. Al-Qurtas said, leading to high growth in the
infrastructure, construction, housing and health
care sectors and boosting demand for related products.
Furthermore, in contrast to locations such as the US, newer
Middle East projects are moving toward cracking
heavier feedstocks such as naphtha. This
could raise co-product volumes such as propylene, butadiene and
The conference continues through Thursday at the Hilton
Americas in downtown Houston.