Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/25/2014 -- Growth in the UAE's petrochemicals capacity comes in the midst of a slowdown caused by increased Asian self-sufficiency. Unless external markets recover, BMI's latest UAE Petrochemicals Report warns that the additional capacity will exacerbate the problems faced in 2013 when the industry was facing slowing Asian markets, moderating product prices and rising feedstock costs.
UAE's Borouge is on track to start production at its six new petrochemical plants in 2014, including a 1.5mn tpa ethane cracker, two Borstar polyethylene (PE) units with a combined capacity of 1.08mn tpa, two Borstar polypropylene (PP) units with a combined capacity of 960,000tpa and a 350,000tpa low density PE (LDPE) unit. The project also includes an 80,000tpa cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) plant, which Borouge said will be a value-added complement to the 350,000tpa low-density polyethylene (LDPE) unit at the site. While previous statements have suggested that the third phase of Borouge will come onstream in Q114, by January 2014 company sources appeared to be suggesting that the cracker could take longer than anticipated to bring online.
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- The ability of UAE producers to profit from strong growth in Asian petrochemicals consumption will depend on China's own self-sufficiency. Slower growth in the Chinese market will complicate problems of oversupply in some petrochemical segments and a large inventory overhang in the manufacturing sector. However, fears over China's shaky financial system, overvalued property market, and huge industrial overcapacity have been replaced by hopes that policymakers can engineer a recovery back above the 8% growth level, providing upside for UAE's petrochemicals exports over the medium-term.
- The availability of naphtha in the UAE will be boosted by refinery expansion at Ruwais, helping to retain the Emirati industry's competitive edge and enabling it to produce a wider range of products. The 400,000 barrels per day (b/d) Ruwais refinery is undergoing an expansion scheduled to be fully operational in 2014. The expansion will boost total output to 417,000b/d.
- In BMI's Middle Eastern Petrochemicals Risk/Reward Ratings matrix, the UAE has a score of 67.1 points out of 100, up 3.1 points since the previous quarter due to the planned increase in capacity in 2014 as well as a modest improvement in country risk. The UAE remains in second place, 5.8 points ahead of Qatar, but it is unlikely to catch up with the regional leader, Saudi Arabia, which is 10.5 points ahead of the UAE. Whether the UAE will retain its position will depend on its ability to stay ahead of Qatar, which could rise in our country risk ratings. The further expansion of Borouge in 2014 and the first phase of the Chemaweyaat complex will bolster the UAE's petrochemicals capacities, boosting its score over the medium term.
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