List of cracker projects grows amid Sharq, Sabic moves

15 October 2004
Jubail-based Eastern Petrochemical Company (Sharq) is due to hold pre-bid meetings with the five members of the ethylene club in mid-October in the UK, after which invitation to bid (ITB) documents will be released for the contract to build a large-scale cracker as part of its planned new olefins complex. Sharq is an affiliate of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic). The development comes amid expectations that Sabic will extend the bid deadline for its planned cracker at Yanbu by at least a month (MEED 10:9:04).

The first set of Sharq's ITBs will cover the technical portion of its planned 1.4 million-tonne-a-year (t/y) cracker, which will be followed by the release of the tender's commercial portion about a month later. Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC)-cum-ethylene technology bids for Sharq's mixed ethane/propane cracker are expected to be submitted towards the end of the first quarter of 2005. Sharq has appointed US-based Foster Wheeler to carry out project management consultancy (PMC) and front-end engineering and design (FEED) services for all units except for the cracker, which will be handled by the winner of the EPC and technology contract (MEED 27:8:04).

Indications are that some of the teams of technology providers and EPC contractors will join forces for the first time. The expected formations are: ABB Lummus Global, with Italy's Snamprogetti; US-based Shaw International, formerly known as Stone & Webster, with Taiwan's CTCI; US-based Kellogg Brown & Root, with Japan's Chiyoda Corporation; Germany's Linde, with South Korea's Samsung Engineering Corporation; and Paris-based Technip.

It is understood that the ethylene club members expect Sabic to extend the deadline for the submission of proposals for the new ethane/propane cracker at Yanbu by at least a month until the end of December. Industry sources say Sabic has requested potential bidders to increase the cracker's planned capacity to 1.7 million t/y, which would make it the world's largest of its kind.

The five groups of companies are expected to bid in the same teams for the Yanbu cracker with the exception of the Shaw Group, which is understood to be planning to team up with Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas. Foster Wheeler also has the PMC contract on this scheme, which is a scaled-up version of Sabic's Jubail United Petrochemical Company (United)complex (MEED 18:6:04).

Industry sources say another new cracker, with associated downstream units, is being considered at another Jubail-based Sabic affiliate, Arabian Petrochemical Company (Petrokemya). The new plant, Petrokemya 4, is expected to include a mixed feedstock cracker with capacity of at least 1 million t/y, for which an ITB is likely to be released in early 2005. A PMC contractor has still to be appointed.

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