The US’ KBR has been awarded the contract to carry out feasibility studies for a $2,000 million greenfield aromatics plant. The award follows the collapse of talks between the client, Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (EChem) and Fluor Corporation, also

of the US.

‘Fluor Corporation was in line for the contract, but could not agree terms with EChem,’ says a senior industry source in Cairo.

A third US company is also understood to have bid for the contract. The plant, set to be built on the Mediterranean coast, will produce 530,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of paraxylene and 450,000 t/y of benzene. The study will analyse the technical, financial and economic feasibility of the new plant, which will use naphtha feedstock from local refineries.

Only US companies were eligible to bid for the contract, which is being funded by a grant of $860,000 from the Washington-backed US Trade Development Agency. Under the terms of the funding agreement, KBR may use Egyptian subcontractors for up to 20 per cent of the contract value.

The planned facility is part of the second phase of the country’s $15,000 million petrochemicals masterplan (MEED 15:6:07).

Paraxylene is a feedstock for the manufacture of polyester, used as a synthetic fibre for plastic bottles. Benzene is used to make styrene monomer, in turn used to make polystyrene.

Following the completion of feasibility studies, EChem will seek a strategic partner to develop the plant, which is due to come on stream in 2010.