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Gulf NOCs bank on chemical cure

The current oil market slump validates the increasing focus of the Gulf’s main upstream producers on petrochemicals

Saudi Aramco’s acquisition of Saudi Arabian petrochemicals champion Sabic in mid-June was the culmination of a drive by major Gulf NOCs, underway for well over a decade, to build an international downstream presence. Initially, their focus was on refining—with Aramco, Kuwait’s KPC and Qatar Petroleum (QP) all now owning overseas refining capacity, overwhelmingly concentrated in fast-growing Asian economies. In the last five years, their global expansion has both stepped up a gear and shifted in focus—based on a consensus view that petchems will replace the transport sector as the primary source of incremental crude consumption by the next decade. Aramco’s on-schedule completion of the Sabic



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