Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical are set to release seven construction contracts in April for the forthcoming Petro Rabigh phase 2 expansion project in Saudi Arabia.

The seven packages cover the scope of the joint venture’s expansion plans and includes five petrochemicals contracts and an ethylene cracker debottlenecking plant and an aromatics complex.

The schedule for the tenders means that prequalified contractors will have up until September to submit their proposals. The joint venture partners will then make a decision regarding the winning bidders in January 2012. All packages will be lump-sum turnkey and completion of the Petro Rabigh phase 2 project is expected in the first quarter of 2015.

“Now that all the major gas projects have been awarded, Petro Rabigh is the one we are now waiting for,” says a contracting source based in Saudi Arabia. “There seems to be a lot of work available, which is why there is a relatively long time between the tenders being released and the submission dates.”

The expansion is also set to include a diverse chemicals mix that will be produced alongside the complex’s more conventional output such as ethylene, benzene and naphtha.

“There are some interesting packages and specialist chemicals such as PMMA (poly methyl methacrylate) indicates that [the joint venture partners] definitely have an eye on the future and the kingdom’s industrial diversification,” the source says.

PMMA is the chemical name for acrylic glass, which is also known by its trade names such as Perspex and Plexiglas.

PetroRabigh 2 packages

  • Package 1: Ethylene cracker debottlenecking plant
  • Package 2: Aromatics complex
  • Package 3: Petrochemicals-1 includes cumene, phenol and cyclohexanone
  • Package 4: Petrochemicals-2 includes caprolactam and Nylon-6
  • Package 5: Petrochemicals-3 includes ethylene-vinyl acetate and low-density polyethylene
  • Package 6: Petrochemicals-4 includes methyl tertiary butyl ether
  • Package 7: Petrochemicals-5 includes acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymer

Source: MEED

Due to the technical nature of many of the packages, several international engineering consultancies are currently in talks with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors about potential joint bids.

“We are having talks with a number of EPC contractors to provide engineering design work,” says a source from an international engineering consultancy. “We are hoping to agree terms with one before the tender is released.”

Petro Rabigh’s phase 2 will produce more than 2 million tonnes a year (t/y) of speciality chemicals and products when completed.

The existing ethane cracker and aromatics unit, which processes naphtha at the facility will also be expanded as well as increasing its current production of ethane, ethylene and naphtha (MEED 4:3:11).

Japan’s JGC Corporation is carrying out the front-end engineering and design for the project.

The first phase of Petro Rabigh started production in November 2009 and produces more than 20 million-t/y of petroleum and petrochemicals products.