Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge) is considering building a fourth plastics plant in the emirate and a feasibility study for the plant is likely to be launched in early 2011.

The preliminary study will begin once construction work on the third phase of the Ruwais complex is under way, according to an engineering executive with close ties to the company.

The company has already set aside land for the facilities at the Ruwais site, according to a company spokesman.

“Borouge 4 is a possibility,” says Craig Halgreen, vice-president for global communications at Borouge. “There is space for it, but a new plant would be built on the basis of feedstock availability.”

Senior Borouge officials have told engineering contractors that, if it goes ahead, the Borouge 4 plant will use the same cracker technology as the previous three phases of the Ruwais complex.

All three phases are based on crackers which break ethane and propane into ethylene and propylene. This can then in turn be converted into plastics at other plants.

Borouge now produces 600,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of polyethylene at Ruwais, and is in the process of commissioning its second production unit, Borouge 2, which will produce 540,000 t/y of polyethylene and 800,000 t/y of polypropylene.

Construction deals for a third phase, Borouge 3, are currently being tendered. By the time this phase is complete, the company will have capacity to produce 4.5 million t/y of plastics at the complex.

However, before the company can build a fourth cracker, it will need a gas allocation from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) to feed the plant. This allocation will not be possible until Adnoc has increased its existing gas output, according to one Borouge executive.

“The project is entirely dependent on gas,” he says. “As soon as there is any excess gas, there is going to be Borouge 4.”

Adnoc declined to comment on the possibility of any further gas allocations to Borouge.

Borouge is a 60:40 joint venture of Adnoc and Austrian plastics maker Borealis. Abu Dhabi state-run investment fund International Petroleum Investment Company holds a 64 per cent stake in the Borealis. It also holds a 19.2 per cent stake in Austrian oil firm OMV, which controls the remaining 36 per cent of Borealis.