In whatever we do today, we focus during the early FEED stage on sustainability, which means we need to have smarter plants, fewer emissions, more reliability and zero flaring.

Ahmed ABDULLA CEO BOROUGE

Design to refine

December 27, 2017

Ahmed Omar Abdulla, the CEO of Borouge, talks to TOGY about competition in the global market and strategies for sustainability. Borouge, a joint venture between ADNOC and Borealis, announced in July 2017 that it would begin the pre-FEED stage for the Borouge 4 expansion and EPC tendering for the addition of a polypropylene plant at the Borouge 3 complex.

• On competition: “Globally, downstream is becoming very competitive, so we’ll need to be cost efficient and deliver innovative products to maintain and build our market share.”

• On efficiency: “In whatever we do today, we focus during the early FEED stage on sustainability, which means we need to have smarter plants, fewer emissions, more reliability and zero flaring.”

Most TOGY interviews are published exclusively on our business intelligence platform TOGYiN, but you can find an abridged version of our conversation with Ahmed Omar Abdulla below.

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What have been Borouge’s operational highlights from the past year?
In 2016, we ramped up our production and reached our maximum capacity of 4.5 million tpy of products. We were also proud to announce the startup of the cross-linkable polyethylene compounding facility, which was part of Borouge 3. With that facility, Borouge has become the largest integrated petrochemical compound in the world for polyolefins.
During 2016, we commissioned our R&D Applications Centre in Pudong, a new area of Shanghai. This facility will boost our research and development capabilities in the automotive and non-automotive industries. It will give us an advantage compared to our peers, so we can reach customers and meet their expectations for the next generation of products.
Another important development in 2016 was ADNOC’s announcement of its 2030 smart growth strategy and its supporting pillars of efficiency, profitability, performance and people. Borouge is fully aligned with this initiative.

What is your product diversification plan?
Globally, downstream is becoming very competitive, so we’ll need to be cost efficient and deliver innovative products to maintain and build our market share. Borouge’s Innovation Centre, which is run in collaboration with Borealis, works closely with the European Innovation Centre. We collaborate with Masdar Institute, Petroleum Institute, Khalifa University and other foundations, helping to advance science and polymers in the UAE, as well as worldwide. We also work a lot with the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association.

 

What are the recent highlights of the company’s R&D efforts?
Since our centre opened in 2013, we’ve been granted more than 400 patents, representing over 30% of all patents registered in the UAE. We have also established three logistics hubs in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Singapore. We have warehouses in Tianjin and Ningbo in China, as well as one in Singapore that has been operating since 2014.
We are now working on reducing two things: our carbon footprint and our costs. We aim to deliver greener products to our consumers that minimise impacts on the environment and society. For our 2030 strategy, we are also working to substantially reduce the cost of production, supplies and logistics.

What are your plans regarding innovation?
We’re embarking on feasibility studies for new projects. We want to expand by adding volume through projects such as Borouge 4. If our planned projects progress, we expect that our volumes will increase from 4.5 million tpy to 11.4 million tpy by 2025.

Do you think other refineries and petrochemicals producers in the region will be developing liquids-to-petrochemicals as well?
I think most of them have made their own calculations, but it didn’t work for them. At Borouge, we have the advantage of infrastructure and integration. Normally, if you invest in naphtha alone, it doesn’t work.

How will you contribute to UAE Vision 2021, balancing sustainability and the tripling of output by 2025?
In whatever we do today, we focus during the early FEED stage on sustainability, which means we need to have smarter plants, fewer emissions, more reliability and zero flaring. By doing that, we will contribute to sustainability. At at the same time, we are working to maximise profits and stretch every dollar to get the best value possible. Doing that will help us to contribute to Vision 2021.

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