Germany’s BASF is expanding its activities in the Gulf and has set up its regional headquarters in Dubai. ‘Our whole business operation for the Gulf, Egypt and Pakistan region is now sited here and we are looking at growing our business, ‘ says Paul Kuhn, managing director of BASF Kanoo Gulf, the German firm’s local joint venture with the Kanoo Group.

He says the main project under development is the joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s National Industrialisation Company (NIC) for a propane dehydrogenation unit and polypropylene plant at Jubail, but the company is also looking at major new projects in Iran and the UAE.

‘Through Basell, our 50:50 joint venture with Shell [International Gas], we are aiming to take a 30 per cent stake in the Saudi project which will require about $450 million worth of investment, ‘ he says. Basell was created in late May, following corporate restructuring at BASF, Shell International Gas and Germany’s Hoechst which saw BASF buying out Hoechst’s share in their joint venture, Targor, before merging the business with Shell’s polyethylene and polypropylene business. The Jubail plant will produce 450,000 tonnes a year of polypropylene, and is expected to come on stream in the third quarter of 2002 (MEED 7:4:00, Saudi Arabia).

Basell is also looking closely at the possibility of establishing a polyethylene facility in Iran, he says, and plans have been drawn up for a multipurpose cracking facility in Dubai. ‘The future of the Dubai project will be determined by the guaranteed availability of the right gas, ‘ he says. ‘It has to be in the right proportions, and must have at least a 20 per cent ethane content.’