The joint venture partners behind a new rubber plant at Jubail plan to award the first major construction deal on the scheme to the local/Singapore joint venture Petro Steel by the end of January.

MEED reported in December 2009 that Petro Steel was the front runner to win the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) deal to build the storage tank firm for the scheme after submitting the lowest price in a competitive bid round (MEED: 30:12:2009).

Upon completion, the plant will have production capacity of 400,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of carbon black, rubber and speciality polymers for the tyre industry in the kingdom.

Sources close to the bidding process say that the 50:50 joint venture partners on the scheme, local petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corporation and the US’ ExxonMobil, plan to sign the deal at the end of the month once they have released the bid documents for the remaining construction deals on the scheme. The Exxon/Sabic joint venture is called Al-Jubail Petrochemical Company (Kemya).

“Petro Steel are definitely in front for the deal, and Kemya will announce it when the other contracts are out, probably in late January or early February at the latest,” says the business development manager of one firm bidding on the deal.

The two remaining contracts cover the construction of methyl teritiary butyl ether and halobutyl production units for the scheme.