Chemicals sector feels the pressure of attacks on oil facilities

The global petrochemical supply chain is braced for the fallout from the weekend attacks on the world’s biggest crude oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
Updated 17 September 2019

Chemicals sector feels the pressure of attacks on oil facilities

  • Now petrochemicals industry which relies on crude oil and natural gas to make different kinds of plastic

LONDON: The global petrochemical supply chain is braced for the fallout from the weekend attacks on the world’s biggest crude oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia.

The attacks shut down about 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil production, sending the price of crude rocketing on Monday. Now the petrochemicals industry which relies on crude oil and natural gas to make different kinds of plastic, is also feeling the impact.

“With associated gas supplies badly disrupted due to the acute pause in oil production after the drone attacks, ethane supply is particularly under threat, which in turn means ethylene supplies would be interrupted too,” said Wood Mackenzie Head of Polyesters Salmon Lee.

Several major Saudi petrochemical producers, including SABIC, Tasnee, Yansab and Saudi Kayan have disclosed curtailed feedstock supplies in the wake of the attacks on the Abqaiq processing plant, which processes crude from the Ghawar, Shaybah and Khurais fields.

Saudi petrochemical plants tap natural gas, known as ethane, to make building block petrochemicals such as ethylene, from which many types of plastic are manufactured.

Spot prices of petrochemical including monoethylene glycol (MEG) and polyethylene (PE) have jumped in Asia.

Saudi Arabia accounts for about 10 percent of the global supply of polyethylene, which is used to make everything from plastic bags to milk cartons.

The Kingdom exported about 87 percent of its production to global markets in 2018.


Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

Updated 22 October 2019

Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

  • Experts say deal will usher in more economic and development opportunities for the country

DHAKA: Saudi Arabia’s energy giant, ACWA power, will set up an LNG-based 3,600 MW plant in Bangladesh after an agreement was signed in Dhaka on Thursday.

The MoU was signed by ACWA Chairman Mohammed Abunayyan and officials from the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), officials told Arab News on Monday.

According to the agreement, ACWA will invest $3 billion in Bangladesh’s energy development sector, of which $2.5 billion will be used to build the power plant while the rest will be spent on an LNG terminal to facilitate fuel supply to the plant. Under the deal, ACWA will also set up a 2 MW solar power plant.

In recent months, both countries have engaged in a series of discussions for investment opportunities in Bangladesh’s industry and energy sectors. 

During the Saudi-Bangladesh investment cooperation meeting in March this year, Dhaka proposed a $35 billion investment plan to a high-powered Saudi delegation led by Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, the Saudi commerce and investment minister, and Mohammed bin Mezyed Al-Tuwaijri, the Saudi economy and planning minister.

However, officials in Dhaka said that this was the first investment deal to be signed between the two countries.

“We have just inked the MoU for building the LNG-based power plant. Now, ACWA will conduct a feasibility study regarding the location of the plant, which is expected to be completed in the next six months,” Khaled Mahmood, chairman of BPDB, told Arab News.

He added that there are several locations in Moheshkhali, Chottogram and the Mongla port area for the proposed power plant.

“We need to find a suitable location where the drift of the river will be suitable for establishing the LNG plant and we need to also consider the suitability of establishing the transmission lines,” Mahmood said.

“It will be either a JV (Joint Venture) or an IPP (Independent Power Producer) mode of investment, which is yet to be determined. But, we are expecting that in next year the investment will start coming here,” Mahmood said.

BPDB expects to complete the set-up process of the power plant within 36 to 42 months.

“We are in close contact with ACWA and focusing on the successful completion of the project within the shortest possible time,” he said.

Abunayyan said that he was optimistic about the new investment deal.

“Bangladesh has been a model for the Muslim world in economic progress. This is our beginning, and our journey and our relationship will last for a long time,” Abunayyan told a gathering after the MoU signing ceremony.

Economists and experts in Bangladesh also welcomed the ACWA investment in the energy development sector.

“This sort of huge and long-term capital investment will create a lot of employment opportunities. On the other hand, it will facilitate other trade negotiations with the Middle Eastern countries, too,” Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told Arab News.

She added that Bangladesh needs to weigh the pros and cons before finalizing such contracts so that the country can earn the “maximum benefits” from the investment.

“It will also expedite other big investments in Bangladesh from different countries,” she said.

Another energy economist, Dr. Asadujjaman, said that Bangladesh needs to exercise caution while conducting the feasibility study for such a huge investment.

“We need to address the environmental aspects, opportunity costs and other economic perspectives while working with this type of big investment. Considering the present situation, the country also needs to focus on producing more solar energy,” Dr. Asadujjaman told Arab News.