SIPC’s new joint venture partner is Japan-Arabia Methanol Company (JAMC), a consortium comprising Mitsui & Company, Mitsubishi Corporation, Daicel Chemical Industriesand Iino Kaiun Kaisha. JAMC will market the majority of the methanol outside the Middle East through a marketing and offtake agreement.

The joint venture company, International Methanol Company (IMC), will have rights to retain the remaining methanol for sale in the Middle East and as feedstock for other plants at the SIPC complex. SIPC holds 65 per cent of IMC’s equity and JAMC holds the remaining 35 per cent. The Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) has approved funding of $107 million for the plant.

Three companies bid last summer for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package on the methanol plant, for which an award is expected in June and commissioning is scheduled in the third quarter of 2004. They are Paris-based Technip-Coflexip, Japan’s Chiyoda Corporation and South Korea’s LG Engineering & Constructionin consortium with Foster Wheeler Italiana. The project manager for both the methanol and BDO/MAN plants is the US’ Fluor Daniel.

A bid deadline of 10 May has been set for the $100 million-150 million EPC package for the BDO/MAN plant, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2004. The same three companies bidding for the methanol plant are expected to participate and contractors say that SIPC will theoretically select the same company to build both plants. The tender had been released with the methanol package in August, but was delayed due to a change in the ownership of the technology licensor, Davy Process Technology, from the UK’s Kvaerner E&Cto Russia’s Yukos Oil Company.

Financing for the BDO/MAN plant is still moving forward. The UK’s Close Brothers Internationalis advising SIPC on the financing and the SIDF has approved a loan of $102 million for the plant.

SIPC says it will complete the commercial financing and EPC awards process for both the methanol and the BDO/MAN plants by the end of the third quarter. Two other plants are planned at the complex. They are a 275,000-t/y acetic acid plant and a 250,000-t/y vinyl acetate monomer plant. The company says it aims to have a production capacity of 5 million t/y by 2010.