Interview: The US is beginning to change the feedstock landscape

In the Middle East, specifically, we hope to be part of the 2030 plans set by some of the countries in the region, by being a larger and more integrated partner in trading, storage and hopefully as an equity player as well, says Gina Fyffe, CEO, Integra.

Gina Fyffe, CEO, Integra Petrochemicals.
Gina Fyffe, CEO, Integra Petrochemicals.

In the Middle East, specifically, we hope to be part of the 2030 plans set by some of the countries in the region, by being a larger and more integrated partner in trading, storage and hopefully as an equity player as well, says Gina Fyffe, CEO, Integra.

Please elaborate on the core offerings of Integra for the refining and petrochemicals manufacturing industry.

Integra’s main business stretches through the petrochemical chain from cracker feedstocks, olefins and aromatics through the intermediate chain, and methanol into plastics on a global basis. In addition to these, we also trade specific products on a more regional basis such as LPG and sulphur, and also certain more specialised products.

In addition to our trading, we use our storage to deliver into the distribution business. Our parent company owns a shipping company and operates 16 chemical carriers – both coated and stainless steel carriers – in Asia.

So, we as an organisation, through our offices stretching from China to the US, tend to be well informed and active in the global markets in a range of ways, which of course is valuable to our customers.

Can you please explain your operations/activities in the Middle East?

Our company has been active in the Middle East for most of its 28 years and trades pretty large volume of various gases and chemicals in the region. We are suppliers of various products in the region, which is on both contract and spot basis. We also do the normal export business.

We have built up, over the years, a good and trustful relationship with many organisations in the Middle East. So, they trust us as suppliers. Our staff in Saudi Arabia report directly to our headquarters in Singapore which makes things faster and more effective. As we have moved deeper into shipping and isotanks, the range of products has made expediential growth in the last five years.

As our business continues to grow, we are looking at investments and asset purchase in the Middle East to make our services even more relevant and closer.

We believe that we need to give back to the community as well and I am now in my second term sitting on the International Trade Committee of GPCA and I am leading a small        Inter-committee Group which was just recently set up.

During the last year, I have also been working with a group of business families in the Middle East on how to grow business out of the region and also to look at diversity in their management structures as a way of future-proofing their businesses and increasing job opportunities. In 2017, I have spent so much time in the region that our staff are beginning to ask whether I am moving home soon!

What are your expectations from the participation in this year’s event?

Last year, we were suffering from the effects of the falling oil price. Now, what I expect to see and hear is a confirmation of what we are beginning to see already from the existing clients in the region. That is an acceptance that things have changed – there is pragmatism and people have fresh views. There is a new and realistic norm in the region. This is really encouraging.

There is more innovative thinking and tighter operating procedures coming to the fore. Necessity is the mother of invention and is leading to more innovative thinking. Long term, we may look back on this period as a catalyst that kick-started a different way of doing business in the region, and in petrochemicals in general.

We are also seeing a growing realisation that the US is beginning to change the feedstock landscape and it will be interesting to hear people’s thoughts on this during the conference. There is of course the new VAT regime starting in 2018 across the GCC. It will be very interesting to see how this impacts people’s thoughts and movements.

What products/services are you planning to showcase at the Annual GPCA?

We will be talking about storage and shipping, and also about new products to our customers in the Middle East during the 12th Annual GPCA Forum. So, it should lead to dynamic and interesting meetings again this year.

Is there any major development in the pipeline as far as Integra is concerned?

We are busy and hope to make some announcements this year; but, negotiations take time and things never move quite as quickly as you hope at the start.

How do you foresee the status of the Middle East refining and petrochemical industry in 2018?

I am optimistic. It has been a good few years for everybody particularly for the cracker operators who are integrated. With the realisation brought by the falling oil prices though, this has led to tighter operations and that is a good thing to have in place early rather than just enjoying the good run. The good times never last forever. So, I believe the Middle East is better equipped to handle the next period which will see the region, along with Europe, having to deal with the feedstock revolution coming of age in the US and also the growing self-sufficiency of China.

What would be the role of Integra in the global downstream industry in 2020?

We will be well past our 30 years anniversary and looking forward to the next big milestone of 50 years by then. We believe that we will continue to develop Integra to be relevant to the petrochemical market, and will be further integrated and continuing to offer our expertise in a wider range of products and services than we currently offer. That is our plan and we are moving step by step towards achieving it.

As the Middle East markets continue to develop at a fast pace, we believe we are ideally suited as an organisation to help companies develop from being country and region specific firms into operations with a global reach. It is by being able to provide that access and know-how that we can best service the region going forward.

When it comes to our global ambitions, we believe that staying humble, hardworking and service-orientated, with the very experienced team we have, that our plans through the next decade will be successful, and that this will benefit our partners as well as our organisation and our staff.

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