Qatar eyes cracker capacity hike and propane cracking

By Malini Hariharan

Ras Laffan Olefins Co (RLOC) is studying an expansion of its new cracker by using propane as a feedstock.

At a recent news conference, Mohammed Yousef Al Mulla, general manager of Qatofin, the Qatar Petroleum-Total joint venture downstream of the 1.3m tonnes/year cracker, said that while the cracker was currently running at 100% ethane a change of feedstocks was possible in the future.

“There is a study going on, maybe in the future we will use propane with mix feed of ethane, but we don’t know how much it will produce. We may reach 1.6m, but for the time being we will produce 1.3m, there is a study to increase to 1.6m utilising propane in the future,” he is reported to have said.

Propane is probably the only route available in the near term for RLOC to boost capacity as Qatar is running short of ethane.

Also at the news conference, Qatar’s minister of energy and industry reiterated the country’s commitment to petrochemicals and using propane as a feedstock.

“In this business you always try to be innovative and bring new ideas. Mix feed of propane. All these assumptions are in our agenda,” he said.

And Qatar should have plenty of propane available as it is poised to become one of the world’s largest producer of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by 2010/11 with production of around 14m tonnes.

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