Bright Outlook for Saudi Arabia’s Chemical Industry

Saudi Arabia’s chemical industry leads the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in sales, with revenues of US$61.1 billion, which is almost 75% of total chemical sales for the GCC countries. Saudi Arabia has proven natural gas reserves of 288 trillion cubic feet, ranking fifth in the world behind Russia, Iran, Qatar, and the U.S. The abundance in natural gas, which is primarily “wet” gas and therefore, in addition to methane, contains ethane, propane, and butane, has enabled Saudi Arabia to expand its petrochemicals production over the past five decades. It now produces a complete portfolio of petrochemical products. One bright spot on the horizon is Sadara, the joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical, which is building one of the largest chemical complexes. The integrated complex will possess flexible cracking capabilities and produce more than 3 million m.t./yr of high-value performance plastics and specialty chemical products. Sadara’s first production units will come on line in the second half of 2015, and all units are expected to be up and running in 2016. Saudi Arabia will continue to grow and expand its petrochemicals industry, with much of this growth in commodity chemicals and polymers.

This article, another in CEP’s Global Outlook series, looks at the chemical industry in Saudi Arabia. It presents basic information on the country’s main chemical products, companies and their production facilities, and exports and imports. This article also discusses the government-sponsored clusters program to focus investment and growth in Saudi Arabia in five areas: minerals and metals; automotive; plastics and packaging; home appliances; and solar energy.

August, 2014