Alongside the higher cost of feedstock, Sabic is also repaying loans made by the Saudi General Investment Fund. Production increased by 27 per cent to 26.3 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2001, reflecting the achievement of an annualised production rate of 35.1 million tonnes a year (t/y). The company is now undertaking an expansion programme with a target of increasing capacity to 48 million t/y by 2010.

The falling profits are indicative of global conditions in the petrochemicals industry, which is in a cyclical trough. The industry is expected to start turning around within the next two years, before reaching a peak in 2004-05. The peak had been expected earlier, but forecasts have been adjusted to take account of the global economic slowdown.