Gulf petrochemical producers are being urged to form a joint marketing company to boost their 5 per cent share of the world petrochemical market. The co-ordination of regional producers was under discussion at a 22-23 November conference in Doha on petrochemicals in the GCC.

Investment in new projects must double to $30,000 million by 2005 if the Gulf is to maintain its market share, general manager of Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) Hamad Rashid al-Mohannadi said on 22 November. New plants worth more than $15,000 are due to be completed in the next six years, and will be financed in part by loans from banks, governments, export credit agencies and regional institutions.

The region’s gas-based primary producers will continue to be competitive on cost, Al-Mohannadi added. A plentiful and cheap supply of ethane feedstock allows the efficient production of ethylene at around $220 a tonne. Canadian producers follow with $290 a tonne. Middle East costs to produce linear low density polypropylene from ethane are projected to be $220 a tonne in 1996, and $259 a tonne from mixed feed.

Producers should probably not diversify into long-haul shipping as the chemical tanker market is oversupplied, director for planning and projects at Kuwait Oil Tanker Company Ibrahim al-Ghanim said. The chemical carrier business is dominated by four independent major firms who compete fiercely.