The consortium signed the Eur 960 million ($1,140 million) engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build the cracker in late June. However, delays over financing and wrapping up the early works agreement, meant that work could not start immediately. ‘We are still awaiting financial close to start work on the main facilities. However, mobilisation has started for the early works packages,’ says a project source (MEED 8:7:05).

The project will involve the development of two identical ethane crackers each with capacity of 1.2 million t/y. The plants, which will be supplied with 2.2 million t/y of feedstock sourced from South Pars phases 4-5 and 9-10, will deliver ethylene to polyethylene (PE) units now planned along the route of the western pipeline. The project will be owned by Bakhtar Petrochemical Company, a joint venture of NPC and private sector investors.

More work is planned by NPC, which is in talks with Linde for its next two major cracker projects – olefins 12 and 14. Both the proposed projects at Assaluyeh will be copies of olefins 11.