Adnoc cancels Ruwais aromatics plant

24 November 2007

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has cancelled plans to develop an aromatics plant as part of the multi-billion-dollar expansion of its Ruwais refinery.

When it was launched earlier this year by Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer), the scheme contained an integrated aromatics element that would have produced both paraxylene and benzene.

However, its parent company Adnoc has now cancelled this in favour of an older plan to link a new aromatics plant to the existing refining facility.

The changes come after a change in the ownership structure of the scheme.

The initial owner was Takreer, but it is believed that control of the project has now passed to Majlis Investments, a new Abu Dhabi government-linked entity.

The company will take responsibility for the aromatics facility's base chemicals, with other downstream products going to Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation (Adbic).

The original plan, known as the gasoline and aromatics expansion scheme, would have involved the production of 600,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of paraxylene and an option to produce up to 775,000 t/y of benzene and up to 4.9 million t/y of gasoline.

It is unclear why the old plan is being revived, although Abu Dhabi is keen on spreading project opportunities among different state firms.

It is also trying to create a downstream manufacturing base to provide more jobs for its growing local population, especially in the underdeveloped western region.

Despite the changes, plans for the expansion of refining capacity at Ruwais and the development of aromatics facilities are still going ahead, with the award of a project management consultancy contract to the US' Fluor Corporation.

The project covers the development of a 400,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery alongside the existing Ruwais refinery, almost doubling the size of the complex.

The existing refinery has a capacity of 420,000 b/d.

Fluor has won the project management deal to oversee the front-end engineering and design (FEED) element of the expansion.

It will manage the engineering process and may have the option to oversee the engineering, procurement and construction portion of the scheme.

Three firms - Paris-based Technip, and Bechtel and Foster Wheeler, both of the US - are bidding for the FEED contract, with technical evaluation nearing completion and commercial offers due to be submitted soon.

Bidding is also under way on the technology licensing contract covering the expansion.

The US' UOP and a team of the US' Shaw Group and France's Axens are competing for the contract to provide proprietary technology for the facility's 16 main process units (MEED 26:10:07).

Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge) is also studying plans to produce speciality chemicals such as cumene and phenols at Ruwais, which could encourage local manufacturing.

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