A report from NCB’s Economics Department Research Team has confirmed that Saudi Arabia is maintaining its leading position as the region’s largest petrochemical producer with an annual 86.4 million tons of capacity. But it says the recent discovery of North American shale gas and oil is likely to have an effect on the Saudi petrochemical sector in its trajectory toward remaining upstream or moving downstream, Arab News reported. The researchers, however, stressed that the Saudi petrochemical sector remains well positioned regionally and is driven globally by a positive demand outlook. The expansion in ethylene production capacity has resulted in Saudi Arabia being the third largest producer worldwide, accounting for 11% of global ethylene capacity. According to the report, the Saudi petrochemicals industry is not expected to see a massive rise in overall petrochemicals capacities until 2016, when the Sadara petrochemicals complex is due to come on-stream.