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Sustainable petrochemical industry needed in GCC
DUBAI, Nov 29, 2012 (Khaleej Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Copyright (C) 2012, Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Senior industry experts addressed ways to sustain a competitive regional petrochemicals industry at an annual forum in Dubai on Wednesday.

The 7th Annual Forum, hosted by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), attended by over 1,600 delegates from the GCC, Europe, the US, Brazil and Thailand to debate strategies for sustaining competitiveness in a rapidly changing world.

Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, opened the conference during a plenary address in which the minister focused on the rapid evolution of the petrochemicals industry in the Arabian Gulf with emphasis on Abu Dhabi and the key drivers enabling the industry in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Rashid began by addressing the economic challenges the global market is facing in both the US and emergent Eastern markets and the effect it has had on the petrochemicals industry.

"Such developments could adversely impact the global as well as the regional petrochemical producers resulting in lower revenues. Though in our region, the economy is more stable, the economy's downturn represents a key concern for all of us due to the accompanying uncertainties about future growth and the subsequent impact on our strategic hydrocarbon industries," the minister said.

Earlier in his welcome address, GPCA chairman Mohamed Al Mady emphasised that regional chemical industry must be flexible and responsive to the latest development for maintaining the position of a leading player on the global stage. "To grow, we need to remain competitive in an ever-changing market place. This will require us to be more focused on advancing technologies and offer even more innovative solutions," Al Mady added.

Professor Choon Fong Shih, President of King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) gave the keynote address on the forum's theme 'Sustaining competitiveness in a rapidly changing world'.

The economic growth East Asia is experiencing, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore and China was a starting point of his address focusing on the comparative and competitive advantages present in various countries.

Professor Shih also shed light on how the Kingdom's industry can sustain its competitiveness through building on already existing advantages. He explains that Saudi Arabia with a population of 27 million, 70 per cent of who are under the age of 30 has a huge human resources potential.

The petrochemicals industry is looking to increase the number of nationals working in the industry; but the industry needs to find ways to attract more nationals. Investing in education and research is one way to add to those numbers as well as guarantee a skilled workforce.

Saudi Arabia has the world's largest oil reserves and is currently ambitious enough to move beyond just an oil based economy. This is an ideal time to for the industry to grow and for industry leaders to profit by spending on technology, innovation and research.

Also presenting were Dr. Moayyed Al Qurtas, vice-chairman and chief executive, National Industrialisation Company (TASNEE); Peter Huntsman, president and CEO, Huntsman Corporation; Klaus Engel, Chairman of the Executive Board, Evonik Industries AG; Olivier Alexandre, Refining and Petrochemicals, Eastern Hemisphere, Total; Anon Sirisaengtaksin, CEO, PTT Global Chemical PLC.

Topics of discussion during day one of the forum included 'Building innovation and technical capabilities in the Middle East -- a key route to maintaining competitiveness'; 'The US Resurgence: A Huntsman view'; 'Keeping European players competitive: challenges and sustainable solutions for the chemical industry'; 'Investing in Partnerships: Total's View'; Boosting competitiveness in South East Asia.

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