Oman Refineries & Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) has released the tender for the front-end engineering and design of its planned $3.6bn steam cracker and petrochemicals complex in Sohar in the north of the emirate.

The companies invited to bid all have steam cracker technology licences and include:

  • CB&I Lummus (US)
  • KBR (US)
  • Linde Group (Germany)
  • Technip (France)

“This is a large project for Oman and all of the shortlisted companies are internationally renowned engineering consultancies,” says a petrochemicals industry source based in the GCC. “On some projects the cracker and technical units might have been separated, but Orpic has decided to do one feed for the whole scheme.”

The long awaited project, named the Liwa Plastics Project, will involve the design and then construction of a mixed-feed steam cracker as well as several chemical units.

The scope includes:

  • 800,000 tonnes-a-year (t/y) steam cracker
  • 300,000 t/y high density polyethylene (HDPE) unit
  • 500,000 t/y linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit
  • 215,000 t/y polypropylene (PP)
  • 40,000 t/y methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)   
  • 45,000 t/y butane-1

The steam cracker will be fuelled with a combination of natural gas liquids, refined dry gas, mixed liquid petroleum gas and condensate. Any ethane and propane produced during the cracking process will be recycled back into the furnace section.  

The project is expected to be completed by 2018 and when fully operational is expected to operate for 8,000 hours per year with about 700 hours devoted to maintenance.

Orpic’s current operations in Sohar have the capacity to produce 818,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of paraxylene, 198,000 t/y of benzene and 340,000 t/y of PP.

The PP facility has been running at less than 60 per cent of its nameplate capacity due to a lack of propylene from the Sohar refinery, which is being expanded partly to provide feedstock.

Oman is keen to expand its industrial base to provide employment opportunities for its citizens. This plan includes major investment in its petrochemicals industry.