The local Farabi Petrochemicals Company has awarded the US’ Foster Wheeler a study and technology selection contract for its planned petrochemicals plant at Jizan in the southwest of Saudi Arabia.

The scope of work includes developing an overall concept for the scheme, which will produce linear alkyl benzenes from diesel feedstock. About 24 grades of surfactant allied business chemicals including detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents and dispersants are planned to be manufactured.

The two types of technology Foster Wheeler will have to select is for the production of low aromatics solvent and the treatment of heavy fuel oil. The company will also formulate a cost estimate and the tender for the front-end engineering and design (feed) contract.

MEED reported in late August that Farabi was planning a petrochemicals plant next to the $7bn Jizan refinery. The budget for the project is still unclear, but a source believes it could be as high as $800m-1bn.

Jizan Economic City (JEC) looks set to be the first mover in state-owned Saudi Aramco’s plan to integrate its refining operations with large-scale petrochemicals production. Three locations have been identified in a new initiative some experts believe could result in new chemicals facilities worth as much as $70bn. Other locations, apart from JEC, include Ras Tanura and Yanbu.

Aramco is also planning a chemicals plant in Jizan, and is currently carrying out a study to determine the optimum mix for the location and feedstock.