The GCC polymer industry is expected to reach 34.5 million tons by 2022, supporting further downstream development, while growing at a CAGR of three percent.
This is according to the ‘GCC Plastic Industry Indicators 2016’ report due to be released at the 8th edition of GPCA PlastiCon by Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA). Set to take place on 9-10 April in Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, PlastiCon is an annual GPCA event that caters to the plastics segment of the petrochemical industry.
According to the report, future plastic capacity growth will be driven by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman. In 2016, the GCC plastics producers’ sales represented four percent of the global industry sales revenue, reaching US$33-34 billion. The industry’s capacity expanded in 2016 by as much as five percent, reaching 27.1 million tons. In previous years, Saudi Arabia alone accounted for two percent of global polymer sales, and ranked as the eighth largest plastics producer globally.
Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of the GPCA, said, “Petrochemical producers are increasingly diversifying their portfolios, investing in new products and moving away from traditional commodity polymers towards specialties such as engineering plastics and elastomers. This is, in turn, supporting the expansion and development of the entire downstream industry in the region.”
Synthetic rubbers will witness the biggest number of products introduced in the following years, benefitting from expected growth in the transport and automotive sectors. By 2022, nearly 70 percent of all incremental supply growth will come from commodity polymers, which represent 89 percent of the GCC polymer capacity. The GCC engineering and specialty polymers output grew by 15 percent in 2016, reaching 2.5 million tons. The industry also comprises nearly 40,000 employees with additional 118,000 in supporting sectors.
The GCC polymer consumption increased by four percent in 2016, reaching five million tons. Saudi Arabia accounted for 67 percent of the GCC polymer resins production in 2016 and was the largest polymer consumer in the GCC, followed by the UAE, which accounted for 19 percent.
Industrial packaging is the fastest growing end-user market for polymers in the region. Consumer packaging accounts for 44 percent, followed by the construction industry, which accounted for more than a fifth. Plastic consumption in the GCC is increasing rapidly and reached 94 kg per capita in 2016.
Plastics consumption in Qatar is the fastest growing in the region, growing at 14 percent between 2006 and 2016. This is double the growth posted by market leaders Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Qatar, however, has the lowest consumption ratio to total polymer output. In 2016, that was just over 11 percent, much lower than in other countries. In 2016, Oman enjoyed the highest ratio of polymer consumption to output in the region (48 percent).
A number of industrial parks focused on polymer conversion and multi industry are under development in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman, with some being built next to big resin production facilities. In Oman, Orpic is building a new ethylene cracker that will enable polyethylene production for the first time in the country.