Sabic CEO sees technology, innovation as keys for Middle East petchems

The petrochemical industry in the Gulf region needs to focus more on technology and innovation, offer customers more technologically-advanced products and design products that meet global demand, according to Mohamed Al-Mady, CEO of Saudi producer SABIC.

Al-Mady, who is also chairman of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), spoke Wednesday at the annual GPCA Forum in Dubai.

In his opening remarks to a gathering of industry leaders at the three-day forum, Al-Mady said that the region’s future competitive advantage will have less to do with feedstock price and supply and more to do with technology and innovation.

“We need to direct our efforts towards offering our customers more technologically-advanced and complex products," he said. "Our future success centers on our ability to reach out to customers looking for more sophisticated and technologically-advanced products."

The CEO noted that the global petrochemicals industry has worked hard to recover from the slump of late 2008 and early 2009. The Gulf petrochemical industry has also shown impressive strength and remarkable resilience, though still in its infancy, he said.

Citing the increasing importance of sustainability, Al-Mady said that it plays a significant role in the competitive landscape by providing more feedstock options and less waste.

He said many chemical companies have forced reduction in waste and improved efficiency, as energy and water costs have risen and government mandates have forced technological advances required for emission reduction.

To remain competitive, a balance needs to be struck between the burning of hydrocarbons for electricity and water production and the development of value-added downstream industrial development, he said.

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