Petrochemical R&D on the rise

March 13, 2014 - 12:50:00 am
DOHA: The petrochemical producers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are ramping up research and development (R&D) funding despite a global slowdown in investments, says a senior official from the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), the region’s longest standing trade association.

“Chemical companies in the Gulf are pioneers in the Middle East when it comes to building research and development facilities,” said Dr Moayyed Al Qurtas, Chairman of the GPCA’s Research and Innovation Committee. “While the region’s petrochemicals industry may spend a fraction on research compared to global investment, the GCC has amongst the highest year-on-year growth rates in R&D expenditure in the world.”

In 2012, GCC chemical producers spent an estimated $380m on R&D initiatives, just 0.8 percent of the global R&D spending. However, the 2012 figure also highlights a 30 percent growth in investments as GCC petrochemicals producers spent $266m on R&D in 2011. With global R&D expenditure rising by just 10 percent in the same period, it is clear to see the Gulf’s increasing focus on this sector. 

GCC petrochemical companies have already stepped up efforts in developing R&D facilities with Tasnee and SABIC launching products development research centres in the recent past. Sipchem in Saudi Arabia, and Borouge in the UAE, are also set to open their own facilities in the near future.

“Moving forward, petrochemical research centres focusing on the performance products are set to become more common in the GCC,” predicts Dr Qurtas.

Petrochemicals represent the second largest manufacturing sector in the Gulf, according 

to the GPCA. 

The Gulf’s petrochemicals output reached $97.3bn in 2012, a $3.2bn increase on the 

previous year. 

The industry is also export oriented, with petrochemicals accounting for $52.7bn in 2012.

The need for research will be a key focus of discussion at the Research & Innovation Summit, hosted by the GPCA, from March 12 to 13 in Dubai. 

GPCA is the voice of the chemical and petrochemical industry in the region. Local and international industry leaders and executives including Mohammed Al Mady, Chairman of the GPCA and CEO of SABIC will provide insights on the subject.

The Peninsula