Germany’s Linde is in talks to build three of the largest ethane crackers in the world with Middle Eastern petrochemicals producers, according to a senior executive at the company.

Speaking at the MEED Middle East Petrochemicals 2010 conference in Abu Dhabi Matthias Stein, managing director of Linde Engineering Middle East said that two of the projects could potentially cover crackers of a size never attempted before.

Two of the [three] projects could potentially include crackers of a size never attempted before

Matthias Stein, Linde

The first project would be “world scale”, covering a unit capable of producing around 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) to 1.5 million t/y of the basic chemical ethylene by ‘cracking’ the natural gas ethane. A project of this size would cost up to $1.4bn.

The remaining two schemes would cover units capable of producing up to 2 million t/y, a scale, which has never been attempted before, he said. Stein declined to comment on a likely value for these projects.

The major constraint on a project of this size would be the availability of the technology capable of handling production on such a large scale, he added.

Stein declined to comment on the clients involved, but did say that he saw Saudi Arabia as offering the most opportunities for new petrochemicals projects.

Linde is currently building the world’s biggest ethane cracker, a 1.5 million t/y unit, for Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge) as part of the third-phase expansion of the company’s Ruwais plastics complex (MEED 22:5:10).