At least five shortlisted contractors – including Oslo-based Aker Kvaerner, Fluor Corporationand Foster Wheeler, both of the US, and Lurgiand Linde, both of Germany – are expected to bid for the estimated $250 million-350 million package covering the construction of a 460,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) acetic acid plant, a 50,000-t/y acetic anhydride unit and a 300,000-t/y vinyl acetic monomer (VAM) plant. The contract will be awarded on a cost reimbursable basis in January and converted into a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) contract at a later stage. Site preparation for the complex is already well under way, with full project completion scheduled for late summer 2008. Sipchem is developing the scheme in joint venture (JV) with Helm Arabia, a JV of Germany’s Helmand France’s Thales.

A contract award is now due by the end of the year on the second package, covering offsites and utilities (O&U) and the construction of a 265,000-t/y carbon monoxide (CO) unit and purification plant, which will provide feedstock for the acetic acid unit. Lurgi, Linde and Aker Kvaerner have already submitted technical proposals for the estimated $175 million-250 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract. Commercial offers are due to be submitted in late November. The CO and O&U schemes are being developed by a JV of Sipchem and the local National Power Company (NPC).

The acetyls complex is being carried out under phase 2 of Sipchem’s petrochemicals programme, for which the $500 million debt package, which will cover about two thirds of total project costs, is out to market among banks (see Banking & Finance).

Phase 2 was also to include the expansion of the existing methanol plant developed under phase 1 and operated by International Methanol Company (IMC). ‘The project has been put on hold temporarily due to a shortage of feedstock,’ Al-Ohali said. ‘We are not proceeding but this may change if we get methane.’

Production at Sipchem’s second phase 1 project, the BDO plant, is now being gradually increased to reach full capacity in December. The bulk of the output will be exported to Europe and all of Asia, with some product also going to Latin America (MEED 21:1:05).