Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, the Middle East’s biggest petrochemicals company, has confirmed Abdulrahman Al Fageeh as its chief executive.
Mr Al Fageeh was appointed to the role in an interim capacity in September last year after his predecessor Yousef Al Benyan was named as Saudi Arabia’s Education Minister.
Mr Al Fageeh, who will also be joining Sabic’s board, previously held several senior roles in the company and is currently the chairman of fertiliser producer Sabic Agri-Nutrients Company and Nusaned Investment, the company said in a filing on Wednesday to the Tadawul stock exchange, where its shares are traded.
Sabic is set to play a key role in the kingdom’s plan to reduce its reliance on oil exports.
The petrochemicals industry is expected to be a major driver of crude demand in the next few decades as consumers increasingly switch to electric vehicles.
Globally, the sector is projected to be worth about $800 billion by 2030, up from about $475 billion in 2020, according to Precedence Research.
Last year, Sabic announced plans to set up a plant to convert crude oil into petrochemicals in Ras Al Khair, with a capacity of 400,000 barrels per day of oil.
Top crude exporter Saudi Aramco, which owns a 70 per cent stake in Sabic, has been investing billions of dollars in downstream projects to extract more value from its crude output.
In November, Aramco said it would build a $7 billion refinery and integrated petrochemical steam cracker in South Korea through its S-Oil unit.
The steam cracker, which will convert crude oil into petrochemical feedstock, is expected to produce up to 3.2 million tonnes annually and have the capacity to produce high-value polymers.
Petrochemicals are set to account for more than a third of the growth in oil demand in the period up to 2030, and about half in the run-up to 2050, overtaking the lorry, aviation and shipping sectors, according to the International Energy Agency.
Their production is also poised to consume an additional 56 billion cubic metres of natural gas by 2030, equal to about half of Canada’s total gas consumption today, the energy agency said.
Updated: March 22, 2023, 10:30 AM