SABIC eyes overseas expansion as outlook improves

The view from SABIC headquarters in Riyadh is much improved thanks to increased global demand for the petrochemicals it makes. (Courtesy of SABIC)
Updated 29 July 2018

SABIC eyes overseas expansion as outlook improves

  • First half was "very positive" says CEO
  • Profits surge 81 percent in second quarter

RIYADH: Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) said on Sunday it expects positive growth in the second half of this year, backed by an increase in production and enhanced global economic outlook.

The comments came after SABIC reported an 81 percent leap in second-quarter net profit, citing higher selling prices and a jump in sales volumes.

The first half of 2018 was “very positive” and SABIC expects the second half of the year to be “equally positive,” CEO Yousef Al-Benyan told a news conference.

SABIC has been a focus of investor attention after Reuters reported earlier this month that Saudi national oil giant Aramco aimed to buy a stake in SABIC, possibly taking the entire 70 percent holding owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF). Aramco subsequently confirmed the report.

Benyan said on Sunday that talks on the potential acquisition of a stake in his company are taking place solely between Aramco and PIF.

“Hard to expect anything in this regard — Aramco-PIF talks are between an owner and a future investor,” Yousef Al-Benyan told a news conference. “I can assure you we have trust in our regulators.”

SABIC posted a net profit of SR6.70 billion ($1.79 billion) in the three months to June 30, up from SR3.71 billion in the year-earlier period, beating average analyst forecasts of a 5.8 billion riyals net profit.

Benyan said the company’s production rose about 1.5 million tons in the first half of the year and is expected to rise to three million tons by year-end.

Quarterly sales climbed 26 percent from a year earlier to SR43.28 billion, and were up three percent from the previous quarter.

SABIC’s results are closely tied to oil prices and global economic growth because its products — plastics, fertilizers and metals — are used extensively in construction, agriculture, industry and the manufacturing of consumer goods.

The petrochemical giant has plans to expand its presence in global markets; specifically in North America, China and North Africa, Benyan said, adding that the company is looking at various options, without giving further details.

In Europe, the company is still committed to its investment in Clariant, and is awaiting antitrust approvals for acquiring a 25 percent stake in the Swiss speciality chemical maker which was announced in January, Benyan said.

Earlier this month, Clariant CEO said his company’s update on its ties with SABIC is likely to be delayed as antitrust approvals take longer than expected.

Oil extends 7% slump from previous day

Updated 14 November 2018

Oil extends 7% slump from previous day

  • Oil markets are being pressured from two sides: a surge in supply and increasing concerns about an economic slowdown
  • OPEC has been making increasingly frequent public statements that it would start withholding crude in 2019

SINGAPORE: Oil markets slipped again on Wednesday, extending losses from a 7 percent plunge the previous session as surging supply and the specter of faltering demand scared off investors.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $55.50 per barrel at 0514 GMT, down 19 cents from their last settlement.
International benchmark Brent crude oil futures were down 22 cents at $65.25 per barrel.
Crude oil has lost over a quarter of its value since early October in what has become one of the biggest declines since prices collapsed in 2014.
The slump in spot prices has turned the entire forward curve for crude oil upside down.
Spot prices in September were significantly higher than those for later delivery, a structure known as backwardation that implies a tight market as it is unattractive to put oil into storage.
By mid-November, the curve had flipped into contango, when crude prices for immediate delivery are cheaper than those for later dispatch. That implies an oversupplied market as it makes it attractive to store oil for later sale.
Oil markets are being pressured from two sides: a surge in supply and increasing concerns about an economic slowdown.
US crude oil output from its seven major shale basins is expected to hit a record of 7.94 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.
That surge in onshore output has helped overall US crude production hit a record 11.6 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Most analysts expect US output to climb above 12 million bpd within the first half of 2019.
“This will, in our view, cap any upside above $85 per barrel (for oil prices),” said Jon Andersson, head of commodities at Vontobel Asset Management.
The surge in US production is contributing to rising stockpiles.
US crude stocks climbed by 7.8 million barrels in the week ending Nov. 2 to 432 million as refineries cut output, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.
The producer group Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has been watching the jump in supply and price slump with concern.
OPEC has been making increasingly frequent public statements that it would start withholding crude in 2019 to tighten supply and prop up prices.
“OPEC and Russia are under pressure to reduce current production levels, which is a decision that we expect to be taken at the next OPEC meeting on Dec. 6,” said Andersson.
That puts OPEC on a collision course with US President Donald Trump, who publicly supports low oil prices and who has called on OPEC not to cut production.