Saudi Arabia’s Farabi Petrochemicals Company is expected to make an investment decision on its proposed new facility at Jizan Economic City (JEC) by March 2012.

MEED reported in late August that Farabi was planning a petrochemicals plant next to the $7bn Jizan refinery in the southwest of the kingdom.

“It is rare that private petrochemicals companies are doing anything in Saudi Arabia at the moment, so hopefully Farabi will be able to make a positive decision and press ahead with the project,” says a petrochemicals industry source.

The chemicals mix for the proposed facility will concentrate on about two dozen grades of surfactant allied business chemicals. These will include detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents and dispersants.

The budget for the scheme is still unclear, but the source believe it could be as high as $800m-1bn.

The chemicals firm is now in negotiations with Saudi Aramco to ensure the plant’s feedstock, land and power allocations are secured. 

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

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