Editor's comment: Preparing for post-Covid-19 scenario

For chemicals used to fight Covid-19, prices have stayed moderate, while fertiliser prices improved by 3% in March 2020 compared with February 2020

Martin Menachery is the editor Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Martin Menachery is the editor Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

Business leaders and industry bodies are currently working overtime from digital platforms exploring a roadmap to bring the industry back to a vibrant mode within a reasonable time-frame, post-Covid-19. Recently, we have published many insights in this direction. In this issue of the magazine, there is an interesting outlook in this direction from Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general, GPCA, elaborating on how GCC chemical industry must plan and prepare for the post-Covid period.

According to Dr Al-Sadoun, like the chemical industry globally, the GCC petrochemical sector has felt the strain from the Covid-19 pandemic in the form of plunging petrochemical prices, disruptions on the Chinese market, travel and export restrictions, as well as collapsing demand due to a slowdown in key end-user industries. His outlook also mentions that, on the positive side, demand for products used in the manufacturing of sanitizing products, personal protection, and health care remained upbeat and the production of fertilisers was not impacted. For chemicals used to fight Covid-19, prices have stayed moderate, while fertiliser prices improved by 3% in March 2020 compared with February 2020.

Dr Al-Sadoun commented: “The time is now for chemical players to focus on key areas to strengthen their competitive position and emerge stronger from the crisis. Companies must study lessons learned during Covid-19 period to improve their organisational effectiveness. They can further use changing consumer attitudes due to Covid-19 as an opportunity to improve their product offering, address new customer needs and focus on innovation. Finally, the Covid-19 crisis has amplified the importance to diversify regional economies and focus on value-added chemicals that can not only play a key role in providing unique solutions in healthcare, but help insulate the region from future oil price shocks.

Meanwhile, there were few strategic moves recently from the regional downstream players. Hosted by Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, group CEO of ADNOC, Global energy giants representing the world’s leading oil, gas, and petrochemical companies united around the common purpose of ensuring sustainable global energy supplies as economies begin to reopen and the world adjusts to the next normal, during a special virtual edition of the Abu Dhabi CEO Roundtable held on 16 June. The CEOs shared lessons learned and best practices in ensuring the safety of employees, safeguarding business continuity, and building resilience as they continue responding to Covid-19.

Soon after, ADNOC announced that it has entered into an agreement with some of the world’s leading infrastructure investors and operators, sovereign wealth and pension funds. A consortium of investors comprising Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Brookfield Asset Management, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), NH Investment & Securities, and Snam will invest in select ADNOC gas pipeline assets valued at $20.7bn. This development is an indicator to the regional industry’s positive endeavours pursuing a vibrant industry, post-Covid-19.

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