Petrochemicals sector to grow 3 to 4 pct per year: Aramco executive

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Saudi Aramco expects the global petrochemical industry to grow in the range of 3 to 4 percent per year going forward, a top executive at the company said at an event on Tuesday.

For “chemicals we see 3 to 4 percent growth going forward,” the energy giant’s Chief Technology Officer Ahmad Al Khowaiter said at the annual Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) forum.

Saudi Aramco has been expanding its petrochemicals and refining businesses in the hopes of cashing in on future demand. Petrochemicals – used in everything from plastics to clothing – are expected to represent a third of the global crude oil consumption by 2030.

Oil companies are buying more into the higher demand-growth promise that petrochemicals hold compared with fuel markets for heating and transportation. This year, Saudi Aramco took a 70 percent stake in Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) for $69.1 billion, making it one of the biggest deals in the global chemical industry.

However, Al Khowaiter hinted that fuel products would continue to play an important role.

“Fuel use is growing at a 1 percent per year … [and] doesn’t seem to be slowing down yet,” he said.

The Aramco executive, who was speaking at a panel on crude oil to chemicals projects, also touched on the importance of emerging technologies in the energy sector.

“For us as owners of the world’s largest oil reserves, [and] largest liquid stocks in the world, we feel that it is necessary from a strategic point of view to make these technologies work,” he said.

Last year, the company signed a deal to with two US firms for the pilot use of a technology to convert crude oil to chemicals.

Al Khowaiter expects the technology to achieve commerciality next year. “Everything is moving very much according to plan,” he added.