Basell olefins deal nears

28 November 2004
Europe's Basell is expected to conclude an agreement before the end of the year on taking a 25 per cent stake in a major olefins complex at Jubail promoted by three local firms - Sahara Petrochemical Company, Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem)and Tasnee Petrochemicals. In addition, Basell will provide in-house technology for the complex's high-density polyethylene (HDPE) unit. US-based Fluor Danielis the project management consultant (PMC) on the scheme (MEED 15:10:04).

'A deal with Basell is expected before the end of the year,' Tasnee Petrochemicals Complex president Saleh al-Nazha told MEED on 22 November in Dubai at the Third Middle East Petrochemicals Conference organised by IBC Global Conferences. 'It will most likely be for a 25 per cent stake.'

The three local firms and Basell are expected to provide a combined 75 per cent of the required equity, which will make up 30 per cent of the project's estimated $1,500 million cost. A local institutional investor is expected to provide the remaining 25 per cent. Basell will also carry out the process design for the 800,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) HDPE unit, which will be based on its proprietary Hostalen ACP technology.

Technology supply and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) bids for the project's ethane/propane cracker are due to be submitted in the first week of January, with a contract award expected two months later, according to Al-Nazha.

The cracker will produce 1 million t/y of ethylene to be utilised at the HDPE unit and about 200,000 t/y of propylene, which will feed an expansion project at the nearby Saudi Polyolefins Company (SPC), a 75:25 joint venture between Tasnee and Basell.

'The expansion project will raise polypropylene [PP] capacity to more than 700,000 t/y by 2008 and receive propylene from the cracker,' Al-Nazha said. 'We are now working on the engineering design.'

The existing SPC plant produces about 450,000 t/y of PP based on propane dehydrogenation (PDH). With propylene for the expansion project to be provided by the cracker, SPC will not be required to build or expand the PDH unit. The PP expansion will use Basell's Novolen PP technology. It has still to be decided whether the expansion project will be tendered on an EPC basis or whether SPC will directly negotiate with South Korea's Samsung Engineering Corporation, which built the original SPC plant.

Basell has also teamed up with Sahara for another PP/PDH project at Jubail, for which EPC bids are due to be submitted in February (MEED 5:11:04).

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