Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco, today delivered the keynote speech “Chemicals: A Middle East Pillar Industry During a Decisive Decade of Opportunity” at the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “The GPCA Forum is an annual event for the industry to review and discuss outlook of the petrochemicals industry in the coming years. The Gulf petrochemical industry, in addition to being the main production hub in the future, is also expected to become the main arbitrage point for polymers worldwide. In his keynote speech, Al-Falih noted that refinery-petrochemical integration has only started to emerge in the region, which has been built largely on the competitive advantage derived from gas-based feedstocks. “This area of the business, which offers many opportunities for product diversification and value addition has significant room for growth in the Gulf and Saudi Aramco intends to take an active role in realizing those opportunities,” Al-Falih said. Comparing the Gulf’s petrochemical sector to those in other parts of the world, Al-Falih said the Gulf region’s enterprises need to focus on product diversity and downstream value addition. This should go to the extent of supporting industries such as automotives, construction, electronics, textiles, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and others that could benefit from further diversification. As well as helping to diversify economies and boosting GDP growth, product value addition creates employment opportunities. Al-Falih called on the Gulf’s petrochemical industry to invest more in R&D and innovation, human resource development and to nurture and cultivate a dynamic environment that would bring about commercial success and promote entrepreneurship. In addition to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, Al-Falih called for the development of talent in marketing, business systems, finance, customer service and supply chain management. He added that Saudi Aramco is moving in that direction by setting up a new Entrepreneurship Center, providing local small businesses and start-ups with seed capital and learning opportunities. In his closing remarks, Al-Falih outlined a proposed set of demanding but doable targets for the Gulfs chemical sector. “By 2020, the region’s petrochemical and chemical enterprises should increase their sales by a factor of five,” Al-Falih said. He urged GCC chemicals producers to double the business-as-usual estimate of $80 billion per year for the next decade to $150 billion to $200 billion a year. With numerous employment creation prospects, Al-Falih called on the industry to increase the chemicals-related workforce by a factor of 10 over the next 10 years, boost R&D spending and develop the necessary specialized manpower skills. “The next ten years will be a golden age for our region in terms of economic conditions and commercial opportunities, but we also face many structural hurdles and challenges. We must therefore seize this moment before it passes,” Al-Falih said.
Author: Saudi Aramco News