Report: ExxonMobil Qatar Project In Doubt

Up In The Air?

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By John Richardson

QATAR Petroluem and ExxonMobil have started talks to dissolve their partnership for a 1.6m tonne/year cracker project in Qatar, according to an article published earlier this week by the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED).

The project, due for start-up in 2015, would have two 650,000 tonne/year polyethtylene (PE) and one 700,000 tonne/year monoethylene glycol (MEG) plants downstream of the cracker.

Shell Chemicals told us last December that it would ideally like to build two new world-scale crackers and downstream Omega process MEG plants in Qatar with Total Petrochemicals also understood to have submitted a proposal to the Qataris.

Ben van Beurden, executive vice president of Shell Chemicals then told the blog in May: “The situation on feedstock supply is dynamic and I think we have submitted a very good proposition to Qatar. I think they are impressed with our proposal and I am confident our day will come.”

Qatar has extended its moratorium on more gas projects based on the giant North Field from 2012 to 2014, in order to study reservoir behavour. This points to limited options for more petrochemicals in the medium-term and a great deal of competition for what gas feedstock is available.

A source close to Total earlier told my fellow blog author, Malini Hariharan, that an option to expand Total’s existing joint-venture cracker in Qatar was to make use of ethane from the Pearl gas-to-liquids (GTL) project.

Pearl GTL, a joint venture between the Qataris and Shell, is due on-stream next year.

Van Beurden had also told us in May of plans to integrate Shell Chemicals’ planned new cracker in Qatar with Pearl through shared use of utilities, but made no mention of making use of the ethane.

He had earlier ruled out the prospect of using the highly paraffinic naphtha – which will also be produced by Pearl – as feedstock in Qatar

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