Privately-owned Orient Petrochemical Company is preparing tender documents for a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit to supply feedstock to its polypropylene plant in the Suez industrial zone. The new unit is being designed by US licensor UOP (MEED 4:6:99).

The first train of the polypropylene plant has reached mechanical completion, and it is due to start up by the end of January 2001. It has been built by Toyo Engineering Corporation of Japan, according to a contract valued at $70 million-75 million. The unit, licensed by Union Carbide Corporation of the US, has a nameplate capacity of 120,000 tonnes a year (t/y), but will actually produce substantially more.

Orient plans to build a second train with similar specifications to the first, but this project will wait until contracts have been finalised for the propylene plant.

Orient says the dehydrogenation plant will have a capacity of 350,000 t/y, and will secure its propane feedstock from the Egyptian Gas Company (Gasco), which operates the national transmission system, and from a new natural gas liquids (NGL) plant being built on the Gulf of Suez by the UK’s BP. Orient will import feedstock for the polypropylene plant until the dehydrogenation unit comes on stream.

The main shareholder in Orient Petrochemical is the Oriental Weavers Group, headed by Mohamed Farid Khamis.