The current period of lower oil prices will trigger reforms in the GCC that will allow the region to emerge from the cycle in a stronger position, according to the CEO of state-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco.

Speaking at the GPCA Forum in Dubai on 24 November, Khalid al-Falih said economic growth in 2014 had been disappointing, but he hopes lower crude prices will create a global stimulus.

“We are the most competitive region in oil and gas, and petrochemicals for that matter. We are going to be most capable of withstanding the current cycle that we are experiencing,” said Falih.

“I think lower oil prices will spur more reforms in some sectors of global economies that are helpful.  We are already strong and we are going to come out of it even stronger because of the reforms that have taken place,” he added.

Al-Falih said Saudi Aramco would be the biggest refining company in the world after its current expansion programme, which includes the Sadara refinery and petrochemicals complex on the kingdom’s Gulf coast.

“For refining to be profitable, integration with petrochemicals is very essential,” said Al-Falih. “Our objective is that close to 10 per cent of the oil molecules that go into our refineries will come out in one shape or another as petrochemicals and chemicals.”

The CEO also revealed that Saudi Aramco is preparing to build a pilot plant to test crude-to-chemicals technology, allowing petrochemicals to be produced without gas or refined oil products. Rival Saudi petrochemicals group Sabic is also planning a similar programme.