Abu Dhabi’s long-awaited aromatics chemicals project looks set to move into the tendering phase after signing a new joint venture agreement with Singapore-based chemicals group Indorama.

State-owned Abu Dhabi National Chemicals Company’s (Chemaweyaat) awarded the deal that will see the two companies develop a $1bn-plus complex in the Al-Gharbia region (formerly Western Region).

Chemaweyaat will take a 51 per cent in the joint venture, named Abu Dhabi Chemicals Integration Company, which will produce 1.4 million tonnes a year (t/y) of paraxylene and 500,000 t/y of benzene when the plant is completed towards the end of the decade.

The project will be located at the Madeenat Chemaweyaat al-Gharbia (MCAG) site, east of the Ruwais refining and petrochemicals complex, along with supporting infrastructure including a dedicated export tank farm, jetty and loading births.

The complex, which is the first phase of Chemaweyaat’s Tacaamol megaproject, will utilise naphtha feedstock produced at the nearby refinery operated by Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer).

The long-delayed project looked to be back on track in in April 2012, Chemaweyaat appointed Foster Wheeler as the project management consultant (PMC) for the feed phase of the scheme.

This includes infrastructure work on the MCAG site to support the aromatics plant “and, in due course, the other complexes that are planned to be developed there”, Chemaweyaat said.

Then in September 2013, MEED revealed that the front-end engineering and design (feed) work for the project had been awarded to US engineering group CH2M Hill.

“During the summer of 2013, further contracts were placed covering the feed for the utilities, offsites and infrastructure, and the site preparation activities,” Chemaweyaat said in a statement after the Indorama deal.

After the feed stage is completed by CH2M Hill, the joint venture is expected to prepare and tender the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.

The Tacaamol project, which was initially expected to be completed in 2014, has hit several hurdles since its conception more than four years ago. The aromatics complex was planned as part of a larger $11bn complex including polyolefins, polystyrene, polycarbonate plants and several other plants.

US/Finnish group Neste Jacobs signed a long-term frame agreement to provide the feed work on the project in May 2009, which was never completed. Meanwhile, Australian engineering group WorleyParsons, which was initially providing consultancy work, also cut ties with the project.

Chemaweyaat is a 100 per cent state-owned company with ownership split between International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic), Abu Dhabi Investment Council and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).