Dubai: The Gulf’s petrochemical boom may be coming to an end amid a global demand downturn and project delays caused by rising costs and the tightening credit squeeze, experts said on Tuesday.

Last year, just $7 billion worth of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts were awarded in the petrochemicals sector compared with $16.3 billion in 2006 and $17.5 billion in 2005, according to Syed Rashid Hussain, vice-president of Al Azzaz Establishment, a Saudi consulting firm.

“This year the value of EPC projects could be less than $7 billion,” he told Gulf News at the Petchem Arabia conference in Dubai organised by British-based firm World Refining Association.