ABU DHABI — Abu Dhabi’s leading petrochemical company, Borouge, has announced plans to expand its operations and focus on creating jobs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to the National.
Wim Roels, chief executive of Borouge’s marketing department, claimed that creating jobs is inherent to the petrochemical industry because the entire process from research and development to production requires highly skilled and well educated people who can contribute to innovation. It is one of the advantages of the chemical and petrochemical industries and it will benefit Abu Dhabi and the UAE, he added.
Borouge is concentrating on so-called Emiratisation — a strategy to employ a significant number of nationals in the industry. The employment drive is a key concept in the company’s development strategy but is not restricted to Borouge only. In fact, President Sheikh Khalifa announced plans for a huge Emiratisation initiative that would create jobs for thousands of UAE nationals.
As part of the drive, Borouge, which is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Europe’s second largest producer of polyethylene and polypropylene, Borealis, said it was working with European and local academics on strategies to increase its staff. At present the company employs about 650 nationals. Roels revealed that the number of Emiratis working at all levels in the company is growing and is set to increase further, but it takes time to select the right people for the job.
According to the National, Borouge’s expansion will lead to a dramatic rise in output. By mid-2014, it is predicted that total annual output will go up by 2.5 million tons to reach 4.5 million tons. Borouge is the UAE’s largest petrochemical business, but the industry as a whole employs 8,000 people and accounts for 2% of the national industrial workforce, figures from the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemical Association show.
The UAE is not the first country in the region to launch an employment drive. Saudi Arabia has done the same thing by implementing a specifically developed strategy for creating jobs in the hydrocarbon industry. Overall, there were 34,564 new jobs created in Arabian Gulf countries in the petrochemical industry alone in 2010 and 2011, which boosted the total number of people employed in the industry by 11%.
Job creation comes with diversification of production and focusing on downstream products. Specialized products, like plastics for consumer goods, require larger numbers of employees than upstream production and that is why it is a major opportunity for job creation. Borouge will aim to employ more manpower by diversifying production, Roels noted.
Of course, he is not the only one who sees opportunities in downstream production. According to David Seaton, chief executive of U.S.-based engineering company Fluor, the more varied the petrochemical industry becomes, the more support system it will need and this in turn will create more jobs. The same view is shared by Omar Boulos, regional director of consultancy firm Accenture for the Middle East, who believes that each supply chain is different in various petrochemical productions, which will help each of them create an ancillary industry of its own.