Saudi Aramco has started the construction of the air separation unit at the company’s major refinery and power plant complex in Jizan in the southwest of the kingdom.

The estimated $2bn contract was awarded in April 2015 to Saudi group Acwa Holding and US-based Air Products, which formed the joint venture Jazan Gas Projects Company (JGPC) to build, own and operate the plant.

“Construction on-site started a month earlier than planned, initial drawings have been issued and we have a clear plan of mobilisation to Jizan from this date,” said Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of the JGPC board and chairman of ACWA Holding board.

The air separation unit was the last major contract awarded on the $20bn Jizan refinery and power plant megaproject. The overall project is expected to be completed in 2018.

The gas complex will require 600 megawatts to operate and will consist of six air separation trains. Implementing technology developed by Air Products. The plant will produce oxygen and nitrogen which will supply the gasifier to generate the gas necessary to run the power generators and to provide feedstock to the refinery and the adjacent Jizan Economic City.

On completion, the complex will supply a total of 75,000 tonnes per day (t/y) of industrial gas, 20,000 t/d of oxygen and 55,000 t/d of nitrogen, for 20 years to Saudi Aramco’s refinery.