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Tue 13 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Gulf cooperation

December saw the largest ever meeting of the GPCA, proving over 900 heads are better than one.

December saw the largest ever meeting of the GPCA, proving over 900 heads are better than one.

The 3rd annual forum of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) was held in December at the Atlantis hotel on the Palm Dubai, with a line-up of prominent industry figures and experts from around the world enlightening delegates on the impact of the global financial crisis and ways of meeting the challenges ahead in the region's petrochemicals and chemicals sectors.

The two-day event was inaugurated by GPCA chairman, Mohamed Al-Mady, who is also vice chairman and chief executive officer of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) in the presence of Abdulla Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Deputy Premier, Minister of Energy and Industry, Qatar; chairman and managing director, Qatar Petroleum, and Prince Saud Bin Abdullah Bin Thunayan Al Saud, chairman of Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu, and Chairman of SABIC.

We have to use our natural gas resources very strategically for petrochemical projects. - Abdulla Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah.

Al-Mady noted how the GPCA Forum had doubled in size in just two years, to over 900 participants in 2008. "I believe much of the success of this Forum is credited to the line-up of outstanding speakers that have been assembled each year," he said.

Abdulla Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah also delivered the keynote speech titled "Meeting Energy and Feedstock Needs for the Region" in which he expressed his confidence in the capabilities of industry captains to help overcome the challenges facing the petrochemical industry.

He said that the GCC petrochemical industry was on the verge of its largest ever expansion with the region's advantage of available feedstock coupled with the inherent economics of scale associated with large investments, creating the perfect opportunity for the region to take the lion's share of new global petrochemical capacity growth.

"The total global ethylene capacity is projected to be 160 million metric tonnes by 2012 with the GCC's share in the global ethylene market expected to grow to 15% in 2012 from 7% in 2002," he added.

This conference is taking place at a time when the world is witnessing dramatic changes in the oil market. The oil price reached to its highest ever in July -August 2008 and now it is selling at below $ 50 per barrel.Today, most of the industry analysts suggest, the petrochemical and chemical industry is approaching a period of over capacity that is accompanied by weaker markets.

"At the same time, we are witnessing the slowdown in global economic growth that is driven by a slowdown in the GDP growth in developed world and particularly in the US. The financial market crisis in US and Europe is making the situation further worse."

He said that the most important challenge facing the region was meeting energy and feedstock needs with growing demand of petrochemicals usage in daily life placing tremendous pressure on feedstock supply in the region.

No single country or company can achieve all that we can achieve by working together. - Hamad Al-Terkait, GPCA vice chairman and CEO of equate.

"It is understood that additional associated gas from our oil resources in the region is expected to be limited, as crude oil production is expected to only grow at incremental rates, yet the availability of methane from non-associated gas is expected to grow. We have to use our natural gas resources very strategically for energy and petrochemical projects".

During the Forum sessions industry experts from around the globe were given an opportunity to share key insights, experiences, and discuss the global economic outlook at a critical point in the chemical industry cycle.

This year's event was dominated by overtures of understanding and tackling the scope of the petrochemical and chemical industry within the context of the current financial crisis.

"Today, we need to exploit the utilization of gas reserves by adopting advance technology. We can also pursue the value added projects selectively to diversify the industries within the region by extending value chain, enhance local industries demand and increase skilled employment in the region," said Al-Attiyah.

Hamad Al-Terkait, GPCA vice chairman and CEO of Equate addressed questions from Petrochemicals Middle East and said that greater cooperation was needed between GCC states to realise the full potential of the regional petrochemicals industry.

His concluding remarks were upbeat, and suggested that the GPCA was paving the way for that cooperation on a corporate level.

"No single country or company can achieve all that we can achieve by working together. Of course, we face turbulent times, but I'm confident that in the GCC there will not be job losses. The fundamentals are strong and we have been through stormy weather before - this is just a cloud."

RELATED LINK:Looking ahead

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