Exploit Oil to Diversify from Oil
If you’ve ever washed your clothes, cared for your plants or even put on make-up, chances are you’ve used petrochemicals. Derived from crude oil or natural gas, petrochemicals are used as raw materials to manufacture detergents, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, plastics, paints, medicines, cosmetics, and many other products.
The two main classes of petrochemicals are olefins (including ethylene and propylene) and aromatics (including benzene and xylene isomers). A number of derivatives are produced from those petrochemical building blocks, which are then used in the production of a large variety of consumer and industrial products.
The industry’s history in the region dates back to the late 1940’s when Egypt's first ammonia plant was established. Kuwait's Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) started in 1963, Iran's state-held National Petrochemical Company (NPC) was established in 1964, and Saudi Arabia's Saudi Basic Industries Company (SABIC) began production in 1976.
Benefiting from vast oil and gas reserves, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is experiencing a petrochemical rush, accelerating the industry’s development at an unprecedented rate. The increase in capacity announced by industry players (as of December 2006) for the years leading to 2011 equals the total capacity accumulated in the past six decades in the region’s petrochemical industry.