INDUSTRY INSIGHTThought Leadership

Top 10 most read articles on the GPCA website in 2023

We provide a rundown of the top 10 most viewed pieces of content over the past year that captured the attention of our members and non-members alike

1. Innovation as a driver of growth

By Namir Sioufi, Shareholder and Regional Head of Patents, Saba & Co. IP

In today’s global economy, innovation plays a vital role in driving growth and fostering development. Countries that invest in innovation can create new products and services, improve productivity, and stimulate economic growth. The innovation index is a tool used to measure a country’s innovation performance, and it has become a key metric for policymakers and investors to evaluate a country’s economic potential. In the GCC region, innovation is an integral part in the different countries’ forward-looking visions for growth and sustainability.

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2. Waste plastic chemical recycling via pyrolysis

By Jonny Goyal, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS, a Dow Jones Company

Plastics have become one of the most ubiquitous materials in our daily life. However, the proliferation of waste plastics that contaminate rivers, oceans, and landfills each year has also brought adverse environmental impacts. This is a major global challenge and has sparked a strong interest in more efficient production, use, and disposal of plastics, in line with the principles of the circular economy. Also, there has been an increase in regulatory pressure regarding recycling quota and recyclability, along with strong commitments from the global chemical industry toward increasing the share of recycled material in its offerings.

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3. Part 1: A review of alternative and supplemental technologies to flare systems in the oil and gas industry

By Abdulrahman AlMashaan, Production Engineer, Operations Department, PIC

Gas flaring is a standard practice in which plants burn process gas and release the by-products into the atmosphere. In general, hydrocarbons gas streams are vented off these plants by being combusted into CO2 before release. The specifics of the flared gas will depend on the plant, the process, and the materials involved. Typically, oil and gas plants will flare methane gas, while petrochemical plants and refineries will flare small hydrocarbon chains.

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4. Farming for the future: Hydroponics’ role in the GCC’s journey to food security

By Valentina Olabi, Research Specialist, GPCA

The arid landscapes and water scarce nature of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have meant that ensuring a stable and sustainable food supply has been a long-abiding challenge. Despite all six GCC countries being significantly food secure in terms of food quality, the region’s reliance on imports (85% of GCC food is imported) can result in potential problems in the event of a supply chain bottleneck that limits food entry into the countries.

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5. Navigating the impact of the EU Digital Product Passport (DPP) on the future of value chains

By Hasan Alkabeer, Partner, and Stefano Castoldi, Principal, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Humans need to move towards greater circularity if we want to live within the limits of the planet in the future while also fostering economic growth. This will allow us to tap into the USD 4.5 trillion worth of value in circularity by 2030[1] and secure a sustainable future. By increasing the circularity of waste streams, some of this value can be unlocked. For example, recycling rates for the most environmentally hazardous waste streams are only 25-35% at present.

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6. Green supply chain practices in the GCC chemical industry

By J Sivan, Senior Consultant, Supply Chain & Logistics Practice, and Gopal R, Global Leader, Supply Chain & Logistics Advisory, Frost & Sullivan

With economic diversification initiatives prioritizing non-oil GDP contribution, chemical-based manufacturing benefited from these initiatives and became a major contributor to the non-oil sector. The chemical sector contributed 50% of manufacturing at GCC level, and chemical exports accounted for more than 45% of GCC chemical production in 2022. The Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (GSCRI), announced by Saudi Arabia in 2022, is positioning KSA as a hub for supply chain diversification which will benefit the chemical manufacturing industry’s productivity.

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7. China and the GCC – Fueling a green future for fertilizers

By Noora Mukhtar, Research Specialist, GPCA

China is one of the largest producers, consumers, exporters, and importers of fertilizers in the world, with a high demand for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) fertilizers to support its rapidly growing agricultural sector. China accounts for around one-third of the total amount of fertilizers consumed worldwide, making it the most influential country in the fertilizer business. However, its production and application of mineral fertilizers are set for a decline as the country targets to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

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8. The GCC chemical industry rebounds but uncertain times await

By Noora Mukhtar, Research Specialist, GPCA

Following a difficult 2020, the GCC economy is progressively emerging from the twin impact of the pandemic and its induced temporary collapse of oil prices, amid the easing of pandemic pressures, higher hydrocarbon outputs, a bolstering sustainability agenda and various government reforms. The GCC countries have had a strong performance across several fronts in 2021 and 2022. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the GCC real GDP grew by 2.5% and 5.4% in 2021 and 2022 respectively as illustrated in Figure 1.

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9. How GCC countries can win in the future plastics economy

By Dr. Yahya Anouti, Partner, Devesh Katiyar, Principal, and Jayanth Kumar Mantri, Manager, Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network

If the world is to meet its sustainability ambitions, the plastics economy must become more circular, digital, and decarbonized. Today, GCC countries hold a feedstock advantage in the one area, the production of virgin plastics, but they lag behind other countries in the area of plastic recycling, primarily because they lack enough plastic waste feedstock and recycling infrastructure. Although the recycled plastics segment is smaller than the virgin segment, it is growing significantly faster. To maintain global leadership in the plastics economy, GCC producers should create a dual feedstock advantage that entails maintaining their cost advantage for virgin plastics and building up recycled plastics capabilities.

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10. Olefins production with reduced CO₂ footprints via renewable feedstocks and process electrification

The drivers for limiting CO₂ emissions justify unconventional, sustainable, and circular routes to ethylene, propylene, and other petrochemicals

By Christopher R Dziedziak and John J Murphy, The Catalyst Group (TCG)

Recent R&D and commercial developments addressing novel processes and catalysts for olefins production go well beyond traditional thermal steam cracking, fluid catalytic cracking (FCC), and propane dehydrogenation (PDH) routes. The energy transition is changing the priorities and thinking on conventional olefins production, compelling a closer examination of the shifts toward:

  • Biomass and recycled waste feedstocks to the cracker and FCC units, trending toward the higher production of bioethylene and biopropylene for bio-PE and bio-PP;
  • The significant investment and progress toward electrification, highlighted by The Cracker of the Future Consortium; and
  • The emphasis on ESG, CO₂ emissions reduction, and improved energy efficiency.

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