08 December 1997 00:00 [Source: ACN]
UNICHEM expects to finalise by late December a 50:50 joint venture with Phenolchemie for its cumene project in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.
Feedstock negotiations which have held up the proposed 520 000 tonne/year cumene project have now been finalised, a Unichem senior official said. The Saudi Arabian company is confident it will be able to push ahead with the proposed capacity.
However, the Indonesian Bukaka Group subsidiary Kumenindo Kridanusa has said that it had pulled out of the project because Saudi Aramco was unable to supply the full propylene requirement (ACN 24 Nov, p21). But the official said there will be enough material to meet Bukaka's requirement.
Unichem declined to disclose the quantity of propylene supply from Saudi Aramco but said Saudi Aramco is to supply the propylene from its refinery operations in Yanbu. Sabic subsidiary Ibn Rushd in Yanbu will supply 100% of the benzene requirement.
The cumene plant capacity was originally proposed to be 260 000 tonne/year. Plans to scale this up to 520 000 tonne/year were stalled pending the outcome of feedstock negotiations. Phenolchemie's participation had justified a larger initial capacity, Unichem said (ACN 1 Sept, p41/6 Oct, p47).
Construction is to start early next year for completion at end-1998, the official said. Mobil-Badger technology will be used. UOP was earlier expected to supply technology (ACN 25 Nov 1996, p32).
Phenolchemie will offtake half the cumene product which may be used to feed its proposed Thai and Chinese phenol plants, depending on the timing of these investments. Another option is to supply to Phenolchemie's operations in Europe, a Phenolchemie official said.
Phenolchemie has been upbeat about plans for its 400 000 tonne/year phenol joint venture with the TOA Group in Thailand (ACN 27 Oct, 39). Startup of the 200 000 tonne/year first phase is targeted for 2001-02. The timing for the second phase has yet to be decided.
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