OPC projects move ahead

11 April 2003
Oriental Petrochemicals Company (OPC)is understood to be close to awarding a contract on the planned $225 million propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant, after three groups submitted final proposals for the project in mid-February. The 350,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) plant, which is being developed by OPC in partnership with Egyptian Petrochemicals Company (ECHEM) and National Investment Bank (NIB), will provide propylene feedstock for OPC's existing polypropylene (PP) plant in the new industrial zone on the Gulf of Suez (MEED 31:1:03).

OPC is also evaluating three bids for an expansion of the 160,000-t/y PP plant, but projects sources say an award is unlikely until a decision has been reached on the larger PDH facility. Japan's Toyo Engineering Corporation, which is understood to be the preferred bidder for the estimated $80 million PP expansion, has submitted another bid with Samsung Corporationof South Korea for the PDH scheme. The other bidders for the PDH contract are Lurgiof Germany, which along with the Toyo/Samsung Group is expected to use technology licensed by UOPof the US, and Germany's Linde, which has proposed its own technology for the scheme.

The decision to build a PDH plant is the next logical step in Oriental's reverse integration into the petrochemicals industry. The existing PP plant provides raw materials for OPC's sister company, the Oriental Weavers Group, which is the core of the family-owned business. Originally conceived as a private project, the PDH scheme was given a new lease of life after state-owned ECHEM agreed to take a stake in the project and include it within the scope of the government's petrochemicals masterplan (MEED 31:1:03, Cover Story).

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