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Dow is spreading its wings in the Middle East

by Jyotsna Ravishankar on Nov 22, 2012

Williams reckons the West has a lot to learn from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where there is a growth of manufacturing.
Williams reckons the West has a lot to learn from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where there is a growth of manufacturing.

Executive VP of manufacturing and engineering at The Dow Chemical Company, Carol Williams outlines the exciting work that’s going on behind the scenes at the landmark Sadara JV with Saudi Aramco

Dow has been in the Middle East for more than 40 years now. But today its involvement in the region is greater than ever.

Over the years, the American company has built its assets for polyethylene, ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol and hydrocarbons in Kuwait, coatings and reverse osmosis manufacturing in Saudi Arabia and emulsion systems facilities in Dubai.

Each of these business groups have incremental capacity and upgrade projects each year. But today the company is spreading its wings ambitiously with the mammoth Sadara project, and the numbers involved can’t fail to impress.

It is the largest American investment in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest investment any country or company has actually made in the Kingdom. Total investment for the project, including third party investments, will be approximately $20 billion.

When complete, the JV complex will be one of the world’s largest integrated chemical facilities and the largest ever built in a single phase.

Sadara is expected to deliver annual revenues of approximately $10 billion within a few years of operation, while contributing significantly to Saudi Arabia’s industrial diversification.

Refining and Petrochemicals Middle East caught up with Carol Williams, executive vice president, manufacturing and engineering of Dow Chemical Company, to find out more about Dow’s involvement in the Sadara Project, as well as long term plans for the company in the Middle East and rest of the world.

Dow’s presence in the region is one that is characterised by landmark joint venture partnerships and a commitment to positively impact the local economic landscape, says Williams.

“Petrochemical projects in the Middle East are unique in their advantages and their challenges. The region is naturally blessed with an abundance of resources that results in access to advantaged feedstock.”

While in the past, Middle East economies were capitalising on $150 oil, today we see a shift downstream driving profitable growth in innovation-driven businesses, she says.

Commenting on how the region is different from the rest of the world in its petrochemical production, Williams says the Middle East is ideally located to access high margin end-markets such as Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe.

“The Middle East has a unique demographic situation where majority of the workforce is not composed of nationals of the country; this creates a very diverse cultural mix to manage on large scale projects.”

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