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Exxon commits to expansion

UNITED States energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp said the long-term outlook for the petrochemical market remains "excellent" and it is fully committed to its expansion plan in Asia and the Middle East.

The fall in global petrochemical prices in 2008, the first drop in 28 years, is a short-term phenomenon but this year could still be challenging, said Stephen Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Co.

"In the long term, key petrochemical prices would grow at least 2 to 3 percentage points faster than GDP growth worldwide, and the fastest growth will be in China," Pryor told Shanghai Daily in an interview yesterday.

The company has previously forecast that about 60 percent of the world's petrochemical growth will come from Asia over the next decade, and has announced plans to increase capacity by over 50 percent in China, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to tap that demand.

"We are in a major expansion in our manufacturing capability to serve the Asia Pacific market" despite the economic slowdown in 2008, Pryor said, adding that with a long-term approach, Exxon is making investment that will be competitive not just in good times, but over the peaks and valleys of the business cycle.

"You may read many companies closing plants and canceling projects ... we haven't canceled anything, we haven't slowed anything down, we are moving full speed ahead," Pryor said with confidence.

A multibillion-dollar joint-venture refining and chemical complex by Exxon, Sinopec Corp and Saudi Aramco in southeastern Fujian Province would be starting up in phases over the next couple of months.

The venture, which also includes a distribution unit with about 750 petrol stations, is the first fully integrated refining, petrochemical and fuel marketing venture with foreign participation in China.


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