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Highlights

Ethylene glycol supplies are 'tight': Kuwait's Equate CEO

Gulf region attracted $9.4 bil of petrochemical investments in 2020

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will lead the Middle East with new "mega" petrochemicals projects after a recent slowdown, the CEO of Arab Petroleum Investments Corp. told S&P Global Platts on Dec. 9

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"Mega projects have ended, most of them, so there has to be a new cycle now," Ahmed Ali Attiga said on the sidelines of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association meeting in Dubai. "Saudi Arabia has huge plans'' while "Kuwait is trying to strengthen their petrochem industry downstream."

The UAE will also be part of the new projects, he said. "You're going to see a lot."

The Middle East will remain the main source for the crude oil and natural gas feedstocks of the chemical and petrochemicals industry and given that advantage "I think this particular sector will see an evolution in the next phase toward more investments," Attiga told the conference.

The Gulf region attracted $9.4 billion in mega-petrochemicals projects in 2020, up 14.3% from a year earlier but still below levels of the last decade, GPCA Secretary General Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun told the conference. Gulf petrochemicals production last year rose 1.2%, against a 2.6% drop globally, while the region's capacity utilization was 93.3% against 78.8% globally, he said.

"We're exploring opportunities -- nothing definite right now," Naser Aldoursar, CEO of Kuwait's Equate Petrochemical Co., told Platts, when asked if the company had any projects planned.

Equate produces more than 6 million mt/year of petrochemicals, and is one of the world's largest ethylene glycol producers after starting up a 940,000 mt/year plant in Oyster Creek, Texas, in 2019. "We're seeing healthy demand'' for ethylene glycol, used as an antifreeze, "even throughout the pandemic, and it continues," he said. Asked if he sees a shortage for winter, he said: "Events happen, we've seen the Texas freeze in February. I do think it's tight and it continues to be tight.''

Equate is ''running flat out," he said. "We have a lot of demand for our products."