Total waits for Qatar to decide

By Malini Hariharan

Qatar Petroleum seems to be in no rush to sign up a foreign partner for its next cracker project. With doubts about ExxonMobil’s participation, the field has narrowed to Total Petrochemicals and Shell.

Total’s proposal for a mixed-feed cracker ‘was still in the very early stages,’ said Graeme Burnett, the company’s senior vice president for Asia and the Middle East, in an interview with my colleague Anna Jagger.

“We hope to have some clarification by early next year,” he said.

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Burnett also disclosed that the company was looking “to develop projects [in the Middle East] that add something to a particular country’s current product portfolio”. For instance in Qatar Total would consider investing in products in the C3 chain such as polypropylene (PP) or even styrenics.

“I’m not saying that’s in our scope right now. But those are the kind of developments we’re looking at,” he added.

And he confirmed that the Ras Laffan Olefins Co cracker would reach full operating rates only early next year because of “mechanical” constraints. The 1.3m tonnes/year cracker started in April and has gradually raised operating rate to 60%.

As for Asia, Total’s South Korean joint venture with Samsung has started looking at a new worldscale aromatics facility. But details of the project have yet to be finalized.

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