PetroRabigh investors mull boost to cracking capacity

28 May 2007 00:00  [Source: ICB]

SAUDI ARAMCO and Sumitomo Chemical will make a final decision on further investments at their PetroRabigh venture in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, by the end of this year, according to Hiromasa Yonekura, president of Sumitomo Chemical.

Additional ethane cracking and downstream capacity is under consideration, he said, but no final decisions have been made on the product slate.

The phase-two expansion is expected to include production plants for polycarbonate (PC), polyurethane (PU), methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), and nylon, according to a source familiar with the project.

PetroRabigh, a 50:50 joint venture between state-owned Saudi Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical, is already building an ethane cracker with the capacity to produce 1.3m tonnes/year of ethylene and 900,000 tonnes/year of propylene. The complex, which includes a refinery upgrade and downstream plants, is due on stream in 2008-2009.

Saudi Arabia is diversifying derivative production to create jobs. Speaking on the sidelines of the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) in Taipei, Yonekura said Japan had to move up the value chain to compete with the Middle East when the next big wave of capacity comes on stream in 2009-2010.

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