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Wed 7 May 2008 04:00 AM

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Creating chemistry

Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Hagbani, secretary general of the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association, talks about the body's role as a catalyst in developing the regional petrochemical industry into a global force.

Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Hagbani, secretary general of the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association, talks about the body's role as a catalyst in developing the regional petrochemical industry into a global force.

What is the GPCA?

The Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) is a dedicated and non-profit association serving all of its members with a variety of data, technical assistance and resources required by the petrochemicals and chemicals industry.

The founding members' vision foresaw the need for a voluntary and non-profit association focused on providing the resources, aid and technical assistance needed by the petrochemicals and chemicals industry in the Gulf.

The GPCA serves all of its members with a variety of data, technical assistance and resources.

How did its formation come about?

The formation of the GPCA had been on the backburner of the major producers in the Gulf since the idea was first floated in 2004. The formation of the GPCA was officially announced in March 2006, when the first general assembly took place.

I was seconded from Sabic to lead the association in 2006. The office was formed in July of that year and staffed in September. We wanted to hold our first conference quickly to give the association a profile. This idea was supported by the board and we held it in December 2006.

What else has the GPCA achieved in its first couple of years?

We have formed committees: a Human Resources Development committee chaired by the GPIC and a Safety, Health and Environment committee chaired by Borouge.

Throughout 2007, we had workshops and seminars on different topics and also initiated a couple of studies for members. We also produced a directory to provide a platform for contact.

What's next?

We are now in the third stage of the evolution of the GPCA. We have revisited what we've done in the last two years and looked at how our structure has met our vision, mission and long-term strategy.

We developed our road map with the board and through this we feel we need to tackle global issues. What we're doing now has more emphasis on meetings, but for us to be a lobbying association we need to gear the structure of the GPCA to cope with those requirements.

For example, we've created two committees, one for logistics and one for plastics. There are key performance indicators for all committees to monitor them and see that they are performing in accordance with board directions.

We are also creating a Responsible Care sub group (Responsible Care is the chemical industry's global voluntary initiative under which companies, through their national associations, work together to continuously improve their health, safety and environmental performance).

The GPCA needs to take a leading step in this one. It is mandated by the board and mentioned in our road map.

Currently, to be a member of the International Council for Chemical Associations (ICCA) you have to be a signatory to Responsible Care. We may enforce that mandate on [the region].

Maybe, in 6 or 7 years, if you don't implement the Responsible Care charter you cannot be a member of the GPCA, but this is something we are still debating ... What is the impact of the resources that we need?

You're based in Dubai; how are you taking the GPCA to the rest of the Gulf?

We are doing this through our members. We are very fortunate to have some of the leading CEOs in the region as part of the membership.

Are you attracting any international members?

Yes, we have members from China and elsewhere. Membership is not just for the Gulf region, but also for international producers. Now we are expanding our committees, we would like international experts to be a part of this so their experience can be harvested.

How many member companies do you have?

We have 115 member companies, and we're still growing. What we mostly have now is really the producers and some of the service companies. What is missing is some of the converters ... converters here are huge.

We would really like more of them to come on board. We are putting a campaign together to promote the association to converters. If they have issues and are not part of the association, their voice will not be heard.

How does the GPCA interact with organisations and individual members?

Largely, our members are corporates. Usually, in each company we have a representative through whom we communicate. What we do is build contacts and share best practices.

How do you see the petrochemical industry shaping up in the region?

If you talk about this region, as you know the growth and momentum is fairly huge. Just look at the expansion in the UAE, where Borouge is building a second plant and has announced a third expansion.

In Qatar and Kuwait, you are also seeing huge expansion. The region now wants to be part of the global market not only through product, but through presence. The next step is going to be more regional players becoming global players.

What do you hope to see the GPCA achieving in the future?

The support we've had so far is excellent in terms of membership and participation. We would like to see more international producers coming to be a part of the membership, bringing their knowledge and sharing best practices.

We would also like to see the association be a part of Responsible Care because then you are telling outsiders that we care about health, communities, the environment and safety. It is something we need to publicise more so the association takes the lead on it in this region.

The third annual GPCA forum will take place in Dubai on 2-4 December, 2008.

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