Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), one of the world’s largest petrochemicals companies, downplayed the possible threat posed to Saudi Arabia’s petrochemicals industry from Iran’s reentry into the international oil market with the final removal of sanctions, reported Reuters.
SABIC has already posted a 29.4% drop in net profit in Q4 over the global decline in oil prices, which Iranian crude exports are expected to further feed. The Saudi government’s decision to phase out energy subsidies has also put pressure on petrochemicals producers in the kingdom, fearing the loss of their cheap feedstock. SABIC was already pursuing a cost-cutting strategy to face any eventuality as well as diversifying its sales market in Africa and South East Asia, in the face of declining Chinese demand.
SABIC’s Vice-Chairman and CEO, Yousef Abdullah al-Benyan, added he was not sure about the state of Iran’s petrochemicals industry, explaining that it takes between three and five years to come to market, start producing and then ramp up production. A senior official with Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum said that his country had 67 petrochemical projects strewn across the country, 37 of which were prioritized, Trade Arabia informed. The country was hoping to attract $200b in investment for its oil sector in five years, with another $25b for the gas sector, pipelines and refinery reservoirs, the official explained.