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GCC petrochemicals industry on course to environmental sustainability

China and the US were top emitters in 2010, producing 10,385 and 6,866 million tons of greenhouse gases respectively: World Resources Institute

Gulf News

Dubai: The petrochemicals industry of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has taken positive steps towards achieving environmental sustainability over the last two years, according to the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).

“Between 2011- 2012, the GCC petrochemicals industry not only added capacity to their facilities, but also reduced the emissions per ton of capacity in their manufacturing units,” said Dr Abdul Wahab Al Sadoun, Secretary-General, GPCA. “This is a positive development as it shows that the sector is growing in a way that is environmentally sustainable.”

According to the World Resources Institute, China and the US were the top emitters in 2010, producing 10,385 and 6,866 million tonnes of greenhouse gases respectively.

“We must also recognise that while the GCC has a high level of emissions per capita, the region as a whole has a lower population density than that of the United States or China,” said Al Sadoun.

In the UAE, Ruwais Fertiliser Industries (Fertil), the joint venture project between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and Total, has been operating a carbon recovery plant since 2009, in which 400 tonnes per day of carbon dioxide emissions are re-injected into the manufacturing process of ammonia fertilisers.

“Fertil is an ideal example of how the petrochemicals industry can create an opportunity in the face of obstacles,” said Dr. Sadoun. “The Fertil facility will be more economical in the long-term as carbon is a crucial raw material in the production of ammonia, while also making a positive contribution to the fight against global warming.”

While the region’s petrochemical companies now track data on some greenhouse gas emissions, the GPCA notes that there is room for improvement.

“We recommend that the region’s petrochemicals companies continue to monitor greenhouse gases and also track carbon dioxide emissions,” advises Al Sadoun. “Monitoring greenhouse gases is an important factor in developing a sustainable petrochemical facility, making it easier for chemical producers to identify specific areas in which emissions can be reduced.”

Reducing greenhouse gases in the petrochemicals industry will be the key focus on day one of GPCA’s inaugural Sustainability Conference. Nadeem Ahmad Bashir, Senior Environment and Sustainable Development Engineer, Qatar Fuel Additives Company (Qafac), will provide insights on how the company has reduced its emissions through the recovery of carbon dioxide.

Running until December 19, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Sustainability Conference includes speakers from Borouge, Dow Chemical and Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic), discussing ways in which chemicals companies can operate profitably in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible.