Kuwait plans another cracker

By Malini Hariharan

Despite doubts about availability of gas, its cost and viability of using naphtha or other feedstocks, companies from the Middle East are continuing to plan new petrochemical projects.

The latest is Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC) which is looking to invest $5bn in a new 1.4m tonnes/year mixed-feed cracker and derivatives complex.

“Going downstream, there will be some ethylene-glycol, polyethylene, polypropylene, depending on the mix of feed. We’re targeting a world-scale capacity for those units,” said PIC managing director Managing Director Maha Mulla Hussain.

She expects the project to be operational in 2016.

It is not yet clear if the project will be executed by state-owned PIC on its own or with Equate, a joint venture between PIC and Dow Chemical.

At an earnings conference call yesterday, Andrew Liveris, chief executive of Dow, made a fleeting reference to the project.

“As Kuwait PIC seeks to expand, we always get asked and talked to, and it has to fit our strategy up to and inclusive of whether they want to buy into any of our assets,” he said.

Liveris was responding to a question on whether the Kuwaitis could potentially revisit K-Dow, Dow’s failed effort to park its basic chemicals asset in a joint venture with PIC.

Liveris also talked about Dow’s Saudi joint venture with Aramco. The company now aims to have the project “up and running in the mid-part of the decade”.

The two companies issued a statement yesterday confirming that the project has moved to Al Jubail and that front end engineering and design work would be completed in H1 2011.

Liveris also said that he believed the Aramco venture ‘is really going to be one of the last large complexes’ in the Middle East as the region faces a shortage of cheap feedstocks.

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