‘When we look at acquiring assets we never look at taking less than a 50 per cent stake because it does not allow us a satisfactory level of control,’ said Al-Mady. ‘In China, we are in talks over two possible investments, one of them including a refinery.’

Al-Mady confirmed that talks with Iran’s National Petrochemical Companyover a joint venture on olefins 11 had been abandoned. ‘At any one time we are in discussions over several ventures, and inevitably many of these never come to fruition, so not too much should be made of it,’ he said.

Al-Mady also ran through Sabic’s ambitious expansion plans at home, which currently comprise a total of 11 projects, among them a new scheme at Jubail by Saudi European Petrochemical Company (Ibn Zahr). A new 350,000-tonne-a-year(t/y) polypropylene (PP) unit, scheduled for completion in 2008, will be added to the existing PP capacity of 640,000 t/y. Ibn Zahr is 70 per cent owned by Sabic, with the remainder split between Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp), Italy’s Ecofueland Finland’s Fortum Corporation.

Sabic’s nine-month profits for 2004 soared on the back of high global prices and improved marketing capabilities, rising by 101 per cent year-on-year to SR 4,200 million ($1,100 million). Sales during the first three quarters were up by 12.6 per cent to 25.5 million tonnes and revenues increased by 31 per cent to SR 46,000 million ($12,000 million).