GPCA '06: Equate in major expansion mode

16 December 2006 13:39  [Source: ICIS news]

By John Richardson and Prema Viswanathan

DUBAI (ICIS news)--Kuwait's petrochemical arm, Equate is mulling major expansion plans that include adding a third monoethylene glycol (MEG) line and building two new crackers, the company's top official said on Saturday.

The company's president and chief executive officer, Hamad Al-Terkait said the decisions would be made in the second quarter next year once Equate had a clear indication of how much extra gas feedstock was available in Kuwait.

This follows the discovery of gas reserves in northern Kuwait which will be used for power generation and petrochemicals.

"If there is enough gas available, we could expand the capacity of our first cracker to 1m tonnes/year from 800,000 tonnes/year," said Al-Terkait. The cracker is located at Shuaiba, Kuwait.

He added that Equate might then also raise the capacity of the cracker it is currently building, also at the same site, to 1m tonnes/year from 850,00 tonnes/year.

This would create enough ethylene for a third worldscale MEG plant to add to the facility downstream of the first cracker and the one being built as part of Equate's second complex.

He also disclosed that Equate, a joint venture between Dow Chemical and Kuwait's Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC) and Boubyan Petrochemical Co, might also build a third cracker in Kuwait if there is sufficient gas.

Al-Terkait added that Equate had signed a memorandum of understanding for a gas cracker in Egypt that would come on stream after 2010.

On the Equate complex currently under construction, he revealed that start-up had been delayed by two months to August-September 2008 because of flooding in a workshop in India where a reactor was being constructed. The flooding occurred in Gujarat in August of this year.

The start-up of an aromatics facility that will supply benzene for the second Equate complex's ethylbenzene/styrene plants has also been delayed by three months to the first quarter of 2009, he added.

The project, which will produce 300,000 tonnes/year of benzene and 770,000 tonnes/year of paraxylene, is a joint venture between the state-owned PIC and the Kuwaiti private sector.

"The aromatics plant has been delayed because of a delay in negotiations between PIC and the engineering and procurement contractor," he said.

This will force Equate II to import benzene for 2-3 months until the aromatics complex is ready.

By: John Richardson
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