Saudi Basic Industries Inc. officials updated the firm's expansion plans and expressed confidence in the U.S. market at a May 7 press event at NPE2018.
"We're committed to growth in the U.S.," said Greg Adams, Americas vice president of innovation and business development. "We've designated the Americas as a key region for focused growth because of the abundance of shale gas moving through the U.S."
Sabic, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, recently announced plans to build a new U.S. headquarters in Katy, Texas, near Houston, where its current U.S. office is located.
The firm also last week finalized a joint venture to build a new petrochemicals site — including polyethylene resin — with ExxonMobil Chemical Co. in San Patricio County, Texas. Adams said PE from that site can be sold into both domestic and export markets.
Sabic is also making major capacity additions for Ultem polyetherimide resins in Singapore and Noryl polyphenylene ether resins in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands. The Noryl project will be up and running by the end of 2019, while the Ultem capacity will be added in the first half of 2021.
In the United States, Sabic will make incremental additions of capacity for Ultem and Noryl in Mount Vernon, Ind., and Selkirk, N.Y., by the end of 2018.
"We've identified our customers' needs and the needs of the customers of our customers as well," Petrochemicals Executive Vice President Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh said.
Sabic in early 2017 added three new market segments — caps and closures, personal hygiene and thin-wall packaging. In an interview after the press event, Performance Polymers and Industry Solutions Vice President Sergi Monros said that the focus on caps and closures is helping Sabic handle new designs in that segment.
The new personal hygiene segment has allowed Sabic to develop a grade of polypropylene for use in diapers, Monros added. Thin-wall packaging also offers Sabic another venue for PP, he said.
The new segments "made us focus on innovative strategies, not just current ones," Al-Fageeh said. "We want to anticipate future demands and have more interaction with our customers."
Sabic's recent acquisition of a 25 percent stake in global specialty chemicals and plastics for Clariant AG will also provide the firm with new opportunities, officials said.
The firm also has handled supply and delivery problems that were caused by the installation of a new computer system in 2017. "We've strongly rebounded and are operating a high level of efficiency," Operations and Customer Fulfillment General Manager Steve Bayne said.
On the new products front, Sabic's offerings at NPE2018 included:
• A new portfolio of polypropylene compounds for improved haptics in automotive interiors.
• Two new health care filament grades for additive manufacturing.
• A new carbon fiber hollow core aircraft seat back application.
• A new series of heat-resistant LNP compounds for electronics applications.