A shadow appears to be looming over the petrochemicals outlook in Moscow, where leading Russian petrochemical company SIBUR has scaled down its forecast slightly for the year ahead.

A productive 2008 saw SIBUR increase production by 7% to 14,791 thousand tonnes of petrochemical products, compared to 13,883 tonnes in 2007. Production of dry stripped gas increased 17% to reach 13,306 million cu m in 2008, up from 11,416 million cu m in 2007.

However, the company has revealed that it is taking a slightly revised and realistic approach to its expectations for 2009.

SIBUR retains leading positions in the petrochemical domestic market in terms of basic product types, while the highest growth of 23% was recorded in the mineral fertiliser production segment. A 13% decrease in rubber production was attributed to a drop in demand in export markets, primarily from China.

Reflecting on the business environment and the year ahead, SIBUR President Dmitry Konov said, $quot;In view of the significant deterioration of the pricing environment and a drop in demand for the company's products in the second half of 2008, we anticipate a decrease in utilisation levels in the current year.”

“The company will continue its large-scale cost reduction programme in order to improve the performance of the group and maintain its market share.”

Russia's SIBUR Holding is thought to be the largest petrochemical business in Central, Eastern Europe and the CIS, including 34 operations ranging from the processing of gas to the manufacture of consumer products.

The company has also completed construction-and-assembling operations for the installation of a new booster compression station at the Yuzhno-Balyksky Gas Processing Plant, putting the facility in the commissioning mode as of 16th February.

Start-up of the new complex is expected in the third quarter of 2009, a sign of the company continuing to invest in new projects despite the gloomy economic outlook around the world.

Upgrading of Yuzhno-Balyksky GPP started in 2007. The first phase included the project for reconstruction of the plant with increase of the APG intake capacity from 0.9 to 1.5 billion cum per year and increase of the desired cut recovery depth.