Orpic, the nation’s refining and petrochemicals flagship, has set up a dedicated unit to market the prodigious volumes of polymers that will come on stream when its $6.4 billion Liwa Plastics Industrial Complex (LPIC) is operational by the late 2019.
Orpic’s polymer output, comprising polypropylene and polyethylene, is projected to surge to 1.4 million tonnes per annum from 2020, up from 340,000 tonnes currently. Finding domestic, regional and international markets for this output is a key part of the recently established outfit’s remit, according to Gilles Rochas (pictured), General Manager — Polymer Marketing, Orpic.
Presenting at the 2nd Oman Downstream Exhibition & Conference (ODEC), Rochas said the availability of polymer feedstock in such abundant quantities has the potential to spawn the growth of a lucrative polymer processing sector in the Sultanate.
“There is great potential to further develop the downstream industry by unlocking opportunities in plastics conversion in Oman,” the executive said. “We hope that a good portion of this new output from Orpic can be consumed in the Sultanate because, further we go down the value chain, the more value we can create from downstream processing.”
Rochas foresees the potential for an exponential growth in the plastics conversion industry in the Sultanate if the uptake of locally produced polymers can be boosted. Around 44 plastics conversion units are currently in operation in the Sultanate, versus over 90 in Bahrain and 500 in the UAE.
The goal, he said, is to create new markets for polymer based products and thereby drive demand for polymers. One such market opportunity that can be suitably exploited concerns the potential to replace imported plastic-based goods with locally made substitutes. Much of the plastic furniture, household products, packaging material, containers, and so on, that are consumed in the region are sourced from overseas markets. Replacing them with locally manufactured goods made from polymers opens up a huge market, he said.
Also promising is the potential to replace conventional materials with polymer-processed products. This includes metal and wooden furniture, PVC and GRP products, metal pipes, paper bags and wooden pallets — all of which can be made from polymers, said Rochas.
‘Smart packaging’ of the kind used in medical supplies, as well as polymer-based innovative materials have strong market potential. Equally prospective is the potential for new applications using polymers in the production of hygiene products, PE and PP compounds, insulation foams, and related goods.
Significant, job opportunities associated with a flourishing downstream plastics conversion industry are immense, according to the executive. “For every job in the polymer industry, four jobs can be created in the polymer processing sector,” he added.