Petrochemicals are derived from crude oil and natural gas. They are used in the manufacture of end-products such as textiles, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Today, chemical operations account for c5% of global integrated oil company earnings and account for 39% of the world’s chemical market, with the industry producing almost 900 million tonnes of organic chemicals each year. This makes oil companies some of the largest chemical suppliers in the world.
The oil industry’s interaction with the chemical industry began in the 1920s when refiners sought uses for the growing number of by-products from the refining process (principally naphtha); the economics of the industry demanded that every conceivable bit of crude was converted into a usable product.
The chemicals industry is largely defined by the feedstock it uses. The European and Asian chemical industries primarily use naphtha as a feedstock, as this is a readily available refining by-product. By contrast, US and Middle Eastern producers use natural gas or natural gas liquids (NGLs); in the US, this is due to the previously low price of natural gas, and in the Middle East, the widespread availability of very low cost gas. However, following the price increases of natural gas in the US, independent natural gas-fed chemical producers have lost share to naphtha-based suppliers.
Qatar Fuel Additives Company Limited (QAFAC)QAFAC was developed for the purposes of a country strategic plan to diversify its petrochemical base and be able to expand in the downstream industries.
Dubai Natural Gas Company (MTBE)Dugas utilized a strategic manpower development program to develop and enhance the skill levels of nationals
Caribbean Gas Chemical Limited (CGCL) – Natural Gas to Petrochemicals complexThe project was financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). The project is currently under construction by MHI, and is expected to be completed in 2018.