Wood today hosted leading industry stakeholders in Abu Dhabi to discuss the delivery of ambitious downstream growth strategies of National Oil Companies (NOC) across the Middle East region. The discussion focused on identifying the critical considerations and technologies required in creating new facilities that will allow traditional crude producers to better respond to global demand growth for petrochemicals and plastics by expanding processing capacity.

The invitation-only event, hosted in conjunction with Gulf Intelligence, was held to coincide with the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) 2019, and saw senior figures from a wide range of leading oil and gas organisations including ADNOC, Mubadala, Shell, Honeywell and Siemens come together.

Key topics discussed included the strategic advantage the region has in its high-quality feedstock and geographic location, the need to diversify the economies of the region, through the supply chain and generating local employment, by developing further petrochemicals products and subsequent manufacturing industries.

Joseph Sczurko

Underpinning the discussion was the transformational impact of rapidly evolving digital technology and the need to integrate these technologies and data analytics throughout the design, build and operation of new downstream assets.

Jim Collins, president of strategy & development at Wood, said:

National Oil Companies across the Middle East are looking to expand significantly their downstream footprint. At the same time technology is moving at a pace that has never been seen before. We wanted to convene a forum that combined the collective ingenuity of our team, NOCs and other leading industry players to explore how we achieve this ambitious growth through innovation and collaboration.

In recent years, downstream has been a growth focus for many oil and gas organisations globally, particularly in the Middle East. Saudi Aramco has already undergone substantial expansions in refining and petrochemical sectors with a goal of 8 to 10 million barrels per day (bpd) of downstream capacity. Similarly, ADNOC is targeting a significant expansion in its global downstream footprint. The company has announced a $45 billion investment alongside its partners over the next 5 years.

Sean Evers, managing partner at Gulf Intelligence and the moderator of the session, said:

The downstream industry is entering a new era. A growing trend, as a result of oil companies’ efforts to meet product demand and monetise upstream resources, is ascendant in the petrochemical sector. Demand, particularly in new economic centres to the east, is forecast to continue to grow but there are market headwinds, rapidly evolving technology and fundamental socio-economic objectives that we cannot lose sight of.

Audah Al-Ahmadi, secretary general of the Gulf Downstream Association, said:

This is a fascinating time for downstream globally and particularly in the region. There is a huge value creation opportunity from capturing growth in the refining and petrochemical sector as well as from adopting new technologies to create global-scale downstream facilities that remain flexible to demand shifts, create optimised products and ensure asset reliability and optimisation.
This is a turning point for downstream and we aim to capitalise on sustainable transformation. To succeed, we all need to be open to new technologies, develop the next generation of downstream leaders and collaborate more. This was a great roundtable discussion with a wide cross section of industry leaders and I look forward to continuing the conversation and working together to create solutions.

Wood is involved in the early conceptual design and engineering of many new downstream facilities in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, including ADNOC’s landmark Ruwais development that is set to become the world’s largest refining and petrochemicals complex on completion.