By Malini Hariharan
Dow Chemical appears to be ready to take a final decision on its huge cracker and derivatives joint venture with Saudi Aramco in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
Media reports in the last two days indicate that the $18-20bn project, first announced in 2007, has moved forward with a final decision likely to be announced in the next few weeks.
Contractors have been shortlisted. According to one report, South Korea's Daelim Industrial has been selected as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the multi-feed cracker while Fluor Corp has been selected for utilities.
Dow or Aramco did not confirm these reports. But the timing seems right as Dow's CEO Andrew Liveris had said earlier this year that the project, which was initially planned at Ras Tanura, would move to the final approval stage in July. Front-end engineering and design work was also expected to be completed in mid-2011.
Both companies have yet to confirm the product slate and start-up dates.
Dow has lined up an impressive list of projects for execution over the next 5-10 years. Besides the Saudi joint venture, it is also has plans for a cracker and two propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plants in the US and then there is coal-based joint venture with Shehua in China. Will it proceed with all or is time to make a choice?