Gas shortages stall smelter at Ruwais

18 April 2008
The aluminium smelter planned for Ruwais by Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation (Adbic) has been put on hold because of a shortage of gas in the emirate.

Plans for the Ruwais smelter do not include a dedicated power plant, and the amount of power it will require from the grid means Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (Adwea) must develop additional generation capacity, which in turn requires gas.

Adwea could not be reached for comment. However, sources close to the project say the government has not made enough gas available for it. The lack of a guaranteed power supply has meant that negotiations between Australia's Rio Tinto Alcan and Adbic to develop the project have stalled. The two groups are thought to be in talks over whether to proceed.

"Rio Tinto Alcan remains interested in participating should the Abu Dhabi government make a decision to proceed," says a spokesman for the company.

The project was to be built in three phases, each with a capacity of 700,000 tonnes a year. The first phase was expected to cost $5bn.

If it goes ahead, the project will be one of the largest aluminium smelters in the world and will be bigger than the facility planned by Emirates Aluminium at Taweelah, which will have capacity of 1.4 million tonnes a year.

Unlike the Ruwais smelter, the Taweelah plant will have its own power plant, which will be provided with feedstock from the Dolphin gas pipeline (MEED 17:1:08).

Adbic declined to comment on the status of the project.

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