The Middle East’s biggest petrochemicals producer Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) has posted a 6.8 per cent fall in profits for the third quarter.

The Riyadh-based industrial giant, which is the world’s third biggest petrochemicals producer, said the profit fall was due to lower sales prices and volumes.

The company reported net income in the three months to 30 September of SR5.2bn ($1.4bn) down from SR5.6bn over the same period of 2015.

Third quarter sales dropped nearly 11 per cent to SR33bn, it said.

Sabic, the largest company listed on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, has now reported a drop in its profits for nine consecutive quarters.

“The decrease in net income is attributable to lower average sales prices and lower sales quantity,” the company said in a statement on the Tadawul, adding that these factors have been offset by a decrease in costs of sales and an increase in other income.

Sabic also said that it had been hit by an impairment charge against its Arabian Industrial Fibers Company (Ibn Rushd) subsidiary amounting to SR366m and a higher religious tax (Zakat) provision.

The company recently formed a joint management team with Saudi Arabi’s national oil company Saudi Aramco to oversee the development of a major oil-to-chemicals project, CEO Yousef al-Benyan said in an interview with financial newswire Bloomberg on 19 October.

“We have agreed to push this project in an accelerated mode,” he said. “We should have the preliminary study in 2017.”