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Mid-East plastic production capacity to jump 67% by 2015

In less then four years time, the annual plastic production capacity in the Gulf is set to nearly double from 18 million tonnes in 2011 to more than 30 million tonnes by 2015. The Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Assn. (GPCA) released those figures in advance of its second GPCA Plastics Summit, to be held April 4-6 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City, Dubai.

In less then four years time, the annual plastic production capacity in the Gulf is set to nearly double from 18 million tonnes in 2011 to more than 30 million tonnes by 2015. The Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Assn. (GPCA) released those figures in advance of its second GPCA Plastics Summit, to be held April 4-6 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City, Dubai. The new capacity will boost the region's stature in key commodity resins like polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), lifting the Gulf's global share of PE and PP from 13% and 11%, respectively, to 18% and 15%.

The GPCA also noted that new first-time capacity for non-commodity plastics, including engineering resins and synthetic rubber is forecast to stimulate a new set of downstream plastic-conversion industries in the region. The second annual conference will spend its second day addressing three main topics:

  • Ways in which the Gulf can eventually grow to become a "global powerhouse in plastic products"
  • Analyzing emerging trends and new growth opportunities in the Gulf
  • How to efficiently manage plastic waste to reduce environmental damage

The first GPCA Plastics Summit was held in June, and the association expects the second version of the event to draw around 400 delegates.

Apart from exporting virgin resin, the Gulf is also seeking to have more of the plastic processed locally in a bid to create job opportunities for its underemployed populations. A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that unemployment across the broader Middle East region averages 10% overall, while rising to 24% for people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Petro Rabigh's combined refinery and petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia.
Petro Rabigh's combined refinery and petrochemical plant added a supplier park to support local conversion of plastics.

To stoke that regional conversion, Gulf producers like SABIC, Borouge, Tasnee, and SIPCHEM have established innovation centers to support converters exploring new applications, processes, and technologies. Additionally, a number of plastic conversion parks have been created, including the Polymer Park in Abu Dhabi (ADBIC), U.A.E.; the Conversion Park in Rabigh (Petro Rabigh), Saudi Arabia; and the Jubail site (Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu) also in Saudi Arabia. The GPCA claims that these parks have "spurred foreign investment and interest in establishing a manufacturing base in the Gulf region."

Presenters at the conference hail from resin producers, compounders, and additive suppliers like SABIC, Dow, Evonik, Borouge, Milliken, and A. Schulman, as well as equipment suppliers like Husky and brand owners like Unilever. —PlaticsToday Staff

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