South Korea's Honam Petrochemical Corporationsigned in late December a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Qatar Petroleum (QP)to participate in the estimated $2,600 million ethane cracker-cum-aromatics complex planned at Mesaieed. Under the MoU, Honam will hold a 30 per cent stake in a new joint venture (JV) company, with the remaining 70 per cent to be owned by recently-established QP subsidiary, Qatar Holding Intermediate Industries Company (Waseeta- MEED 14:1:05).
A final JV agreement is expected to be signed in the first half of this year, with plant commissioning set for 2009. The planned complex will be integrated into the existing Mesaieed refinery and will comprise: a mixed feedstock cracker, expected to have capacity of about 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene; propylene and polypropylene capacity of 900,000 t/y; styrene and polystyrene capacity totalling about 600,000 t/y; aromatics capacity of about 150,000 t/y; and 50,000 t/y of by-products. The cracker will receive naphtha from the nearby natural gas liquids (NGL) complex and ethane from the planned Ras Laffan-Mesaieed pipeline. The US' Fluor Corporationhas carried out the pre-front-end engineering and design (FEED) package. The Mesaieed project will represent the first entry of a South Korean investor into the local petrochemical sector. The other major Korean investor in regional petrochemicals is LG International, which has interests in Oman. www.meed.com/petrochemicals