The chemical industry in the GCC needs to collaborate and innovate to meet today’s global challenges, said Bahrain’s Minister of Oil, Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, during his inaugural address at the 13th GPCA Annual Forum.
While addressing more than 2,100 delegates, the official further noted that, trade wars, currency challenges and the commoditization of products have led the chemical industry to the crossroads we are at today.
He added: “We must acknowledge the key role the GCC plays in meeting global demand and utilize our strong regional network, acknowledge best practices from across the globe and focus our efforts on capitalizing on the numerous innovation opportunities that the move towards a circular economy will bring.”
Shaikh Mohammed further said that strong and visionary CEO leadership is essential for implementing the circular economy and reaching new levels of sustainable economic growth. By applying these principles, companies can design out waste, increase resource productivity and decouple growth from natural resource consumption, the Minister said.
Citing the wave of innovation of 'Industry 4.0', the fourth industrial revolution enabled by digital and physical technologies, he urged industry leaders to embrace technology with cautious optimism, empower existing teams and future professionals keeping issues such as security and operation excellence at the forefront.
His speech mirrored the start of proceedings on day one, which included a glimpse into the future, and encouraged regional chemical industry professionals to leverage the full potential of data and circular economy, to increase efficiencies and foster further innovation.
Introducing the forum was Yousef Al Benyan, vice chairman and chief executive officer, Sabic and chairman, GPCA, who delivered the welcome address.
“Global challenges to transformation are real. In order to meet these, regional and global chemical industry players need to focus their efforts on portfolio enhancement, competitiveness and growth measures,” he said.
“To remain relevant in this transforming value chain, we must collaborate through value-creating and win-win partnerships. Collaboration with IOCs and NOCs in North America and Asia, R&D investment, customer intimacy, and digitalization are key to the viability of your business so if you’re not there yet, the time is now,” he added.
Representing one of the world’s fastest growing markets for refining and chemical products, Raghavendra Rao, Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, India, was also among the dignitaries attending the forum and addressing its theme of “Executing Transformation and Investing in Growth”.
From global industrial opportunities in India, regional growth prospects and fundamental shifts in customer preferences, he provided a global outlook and highlighted issues that the industry as a whole needs to address.
The speaker list for this year’s forum included Amin Nasser, president and CEO, Saudi Aramco; Musabbeh Al Kaabi, CEO, Petroleum and Petrochemicals, Mubadala; Mutlaq H Al Morished, CEO, TASNEE, and global chemical CEOs – Jim Fitterling, CEO, Dow Chemical Company, Mark Lashier, President and CEO, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company; and Daniele Ferrari, CEO, Versalis.
Keynote speakers on day two were Murat Sönmez, managing director, head of Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and Fernando Gómez, head of Chemistry and Advanced Materials Industry, both from the World Economic Forum.
They highlighted the importance of Industry 4.0, while Dr Aabed Al Saadoun, deputy minister for Company Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia, discussed Saudi Arabia’s national industrial development and logistics programme.
Citing strong growth figures, throughout the two-day event, speakers highlighted the need for evolution within the chemical industry bearing in mind the emergence of new technologies, product slates and upgrades in capabilities.
They also reiterated the importance of ensuring that the industry’s commitment towards a circular economy remains steadfast and integral to creating economic value, jobs and mitigating environmental impact, it stated.