Singapore and Saudi Arabia continue to provide growth opportunities for plastics and chemicals makers.
In Singapore, the island nation has developed Jurong Island, a regional petrochemicals center created by linking seven smaller islands with a series of roads and bridges. The island now hosts 70 companies and employs 6,000 people. Included in the mix is a major petrochemicals hub operated by Houston-based ExxonMobil Chemical Co.
Chemicals and plastics now rank as Singapore's second-largest manufacturing industry, Tina Ong said at Flexpo 2006, Sept. 20-22 in Galveston. Ong is center director of the Singapore Economic Development Board's regional office in Dallas.
Jurong Island's land area was tripled by draining water and through land reclamation, said Ong.
The location now houses Asia's largest styrene monomer plant, second-largest polycarbonate plant and third-largest oil refinery. Large polyethylene facilities also are operated by ExxonMobil and other producers.
Singapore offers good research and development opportunities, as well as intellectual property protection and an annual economic growth rate of about 7 percent. The region's ethylene output also is expected to double in the near future because of announced projects from ExxonMobil and Shell Chemical Co.
In Saudi Arabia, petrochemical production has increased tenfold in the last 20 years, according to Balaji Singh, president of Houston-based Chemical Market Resources Inc., the consulting firm that hosted the conference.
Another $41 billion in plastics and chemical projects are slated for the 2005-10 period, Singh said. That total includes 64 projects, 75 percent of which are brand-new, greenfield operations.
Investors in the region now are focusing on specialty chemicals and plastics instead of base polymers and commodity plastics, which already have plenty of capacity there, he explained.
In the near future, Saudi Arabia also will see more joint ventures and shared projects, including efforts from ExxonMobil, Shell and Westlake Group. These projects will reduce the petrochemical market share controlled by Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic) from 95 percent to 75 percent, Singh said.