Since the first petrochemical joint-venture in the Middle East in 1981, the industry has rapidly expanded with mega projects still underway, especially in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait. The GCC petrochemicals industry manufactured 136.2 million tons (m/t) of products in 2014 – 13 percent of global output – and generated USD 87.4 billion (bn) in revenue, according to the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association.

With oil prices sinking since mid-2014 to a 12-year low in early 2016 at just below USD 30 a barrel (bl), the GCC’s national oil companies (NOC) are following a wise strategy and redirecting their budgets into the more profitable downstream sector.

Growing competition from a sanctions-free Iran and a tightening economic outlook are refocusing Gulf petrochemical producers’ attention on big data analytics. Companies are exploring how to integrate big data into their daily operations in a way that can cushion the inevitable budget pitfalls and establish improved benchmarks of performance…but is that enough?

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