Plans for one more cracker at Jubail

By Malini Hariharan

A few weeks back the blog had reported that Total was interested in producing more petrochemicals downstream of its refinery joint venture with Saudi Aramco at Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia.

And yesterday, Michel Govaerts, general manager of business development for Middle East and Asia at Total Petrochemicals, confirmed that the company was in talks with Aramco to build a multi-feed cracker capable of producing 1.5m tonnes/year of ethylene and 500,000 tonnes/year of propylene.

Govaerts said the partners began talks more than a year ago about building a cracker that could use byproducts from the joint refinery. He also said that financing for the project is being finalised.

However, he did not give a timeline for the project or derivatives that are being planned. But with construction tenders yet to be issued the project is unlikely to come up before 2014.

And in any case the 400,000 bbls/day refinery, executed by Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co (Satorp), is due for completion in 2013.

This is the second Aramco joint-venture cracker that is being planned at Jubail. It follows the Aramco-Dow Chemical cracker project which is likely to be moved from Ras Tanura to Jubail.

Total’s proposed cracker confirms the growing trend in the Middle East to link petrochemical projects to refineries on diminishing availability of gas feedstocks.

But it looks like there will be competition for refinery feeds as well as Dow and Aramco were said to be looking at getting some products from the Satorp refinery.

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