Moving down the value chain

By Malini Hariharan

More details have emerged on Petro Rabigh’s second phase which conforms to Saudi Arabia’s product diversification strategy.

The Kingdom is steadily expanding its presence in the aromatics chain and Petro Rabigh’s plans include 800,000-850,000 tonnes/year of paraxylene (PX) and 200,000-400,000 tonnes/year of benzene.

The PX is likely to be consumed locally as Petro Rabigh plans to support a third party for construction of a 500,000 – 700,000 tonnes/year purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant and a 200,000-400,000 tonnes/year polyethylene terphthalate (PET) unit.

Petro Rabigh has secured additional ethane allocation to enable it to debottleneck its cracker and add 300,000 tonnes/year of ethylene. But interestingly, the company has planned a 250,000-350,000 tonnes/year metathesis unit to produce sufficient propylene to meet the requirements of derivatives such as cumene and acrylic acid.

A feasibility study on the second phase is due to be completed in the third quarter of this year and if viability is confirmed the projects will start up in Q3 2014.

The report also highlighted that PetroRabigh has attracted 10 companies to invest in the Rabigh Plus Tech Park, a petrochemicals conversion zone that includes plastics processing. While the company might be happy with this number it only shows the difficulty that Saudi Arabia faces in attracting derivative investments as the Rabigh Park is designed for 50-60 petrochemical conversion industries.

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