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Saudi Arabia dominates Gulf petrochem industry

Last updated: Thursday, January 03, 2013 1:41 PM
Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun


RIYADH – Saudi Arabia is the largest petrochemical producer in the Gulf region, accounting for more than 67 percent of the total GCC petrochemicals capacity, the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) data for 2011 said.

According to the findings, the Kingdom’s petrochemicals capacity grew at 12 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2007 and 2011 to reach 81 million tons last year.

The data showed that value of Saudi Arabia’s petrochemicals and chemicals exports rose by 40 percent in 2011 from a year earlier driven by higher prices and increasing demand. The Kingdom shipped 35.2 million tons of petrochemicals and chemicals in 2011, which is 6 percent higher than in the previous year.

“The GCC petrochemicals sector is continuing to demonstrate strong growth in spite of challenging market conditions, especially deepening economic woes in Europe and other key markets. The GPCA annual data provide a comprehensive overview of the major sector developments in each of the Gulf states, and we are happy to announce its latest findings which are vital indicators of the performance of the regional petrochemicals market,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of the GPCA.

He added: “We are optimistic about the coming year and aim to overcome uncertainties about the future growth through continued focus on technology, innovation and long-term partnerships.”

Petrochemicals sector contributed 1.1 percent to Saudi GDP in 2011 and accounted for 11 percent of the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the GDP, according to the GPCA findings. Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grew 7.1 percent in 2011 over the previous year.

GPCA data showed that while the number of GCC nationals employed in the petrochemical sector grew by 11 percent last year, totaling 34,564 citizens, Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 88 percent of all nationals involved in the sector in the region.

Saudi Arabia’s petrochemicals sector employed almost 58,000 people in 2011, representing 74 percent of the total number of employees in the GCC petrochemicals sector and 9 percent of the total number of employees in the Saudi manufacturing sector, GPCA said.

Nationalization of workforce in Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical sector gained considerable momentum, reaching 52 percent in 2011 while the growth of nationals in the sector stood at 12 percent during the year, the findings showed.

Moreover, the GPCA data showed that petrochemicals capacity is continuing to expand in the GCC. Regional capacity grew by 10 percent last year, reaching 121 million tons per annum, according to the report. Between 2007 and 2011 regional petrochemicals capacity expanded at 13 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR).

Petrochemicals accounted for 43 percent of GCC’s non-oil export value in 2011, registering 33 percent growth over 2010. Quoting the National Statistical Departments of GCC States, the GPCA data said chemical and related products exported from the GCC equaled $44.7 billion.

The data showed that while the contribution of petrochemicals sector to the GCC GDP in 2011 was just 1.5 percent, the sector represented the fast growing part of the regional economy, creating additional jobs on yearly basis. In fact, employment in the sector grew by 15 percent over 2010 and reached 79,255 employees.

The GPCA data further revealed that the contribution of petrochemicals was quite significant in the manufacturing sector, accounting for 17 percent of the manufacturing GDP in 2011. Besides, the GCC petrochemicals sector accounted for 6 percent of the total manufacturing workforce last year. – SG

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