The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and its joint venture partner ExxonMobil hosted a symposium promoting rubber industry downstream development at SABIC headquarters in Riyadh on November 18.
Industry experts from around the world delivered topics ranging from technical applications to investment opportunities in a downstream rubber market in Saudi Arabia. The goal was to deliver all the applicable information needed to generate interest in developing this market.
Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz, International Relations Manager of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, was among the dignitaries at the symposium. The event was largely attended by government representatives, current rubber converters as well as related industry players who are seeking ways to diversify their business, besides prospective entrepreneurs looking to enter this market.
In his keynote speech titled, “New Industry Opportunities in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Turki highlighted the competitive advantages that local convertors enjoy as against external competitors. He said the Ministry was committed to supporting every effort to stimulate the Saudi economic structure and provide the new generation secure and rewarding careers in the rubber technology industry.
Mohamed Al-Mady, SABIC Vice Chairman and CEO, highlighted the company’s commitment to industrial development in Saudi Arabia. “Creating an efficient and competitive value chain for synthetic rubber is our focus in this initiative. The institution of a strong rubber goods industry in Saudi Arabia will be the single most significant hallmark of success in this endeavour. It is crucial that we inspire the entrepreneurial spirit that will spark innovation in the Kingdom and propel its economy forward,” he said.
Koos van Haasteren, SABIC Executive Vice President, Performance Chemicals, said that one of the key features of development support is the SABIC Plastics Application Development Center (SPADC). “This state-of-the-art facility at the Riyadh Techno Valley, King Saud University, will be the largest center of its kind in the Middle East to support customers in characterization, processing and applications like mixing, extrusion, and injection molding capabilities.”
To further bolster interest in this industry SABIC will also apply an inventory management system that will utilize warehouses in both Yanbu, and Jubail so that local customers can easily have access to their required raw material.
Commenting on the event, Mohammed A-Wakeel, General Manager Functional Polymers, said, “We had an excellent turnout at this first synthetic rubber symposium. We presented business cases for downstream investors in Saudi Arabia to consider. The symposium provided strong guidance to investors to help them set up future rubber processing companies in the Kingdom.”
At the symposium, Al-Wakeel gave an overview of the project to produce synthetic rubber at Al-Jubail Petrochemical Company (KEMYA), a joint venture between SABIC and ExxonMobil. He said that SABIC has identified synthetic rubbers as an attractive opportunity for industrial development in Saudi Arabia and has sought out state of art technologies to meet the needs of a world-class rubber processing industry. The KEMYA plants, he said, are expected to go on stream in 2015 and produce 400,000 tons per annum of Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM), Polyolefin Elastomers (POE), Butadiene Rubber, Butyl Rubber (BR) and Carbon Black, with commercial premarketing material available to the market by mid of 2013.
"We’ll start at or above that capacity, with room to grow as needed. New synthetic rubber production in the Kingdom will provide new rubber goods and tire investment opportunities for entrepreneurs,” he added.
Al-Wakeel also provided details about the products/services that can be expected from SABIC. Downstream support initiatives have already begun as can be seen by the opening of the High Institute for Elastomer Industries (HIEI) in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. The HIEI seeks to train Saudis for careers in the newly established Saudi elastomer conversion industry.
In conclusion, Al-Wakeel addressed opportunities for potential Saudi investors in the tire and rubber goods industries, where the market is increasingly driven by technology and economy of scale.