Qatar breaks ground on $6bn petrochemicals project

21 February 2024
Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim, laid the foundation stone for the Ras Laffan petrochemicals complex, which is being built by a 70:30 joint venture of QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical

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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani has laid the foundation stone for the country’s estimated $6bn Ras Laffan petrochemicals complex.

The project is being developed by a joint venture (JV) of QatarEnergy and US-based Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem).

QatarEnergy owns a majority 70 per cent stake in the JV. CPChem – 50:50 owned by the US’ Chevron and Phillips 66 – holds the remaining 30 per cent.

The Ras Laffan petrochemicals complex is expected to begin production in 2026. It consists of an ethane cracker with a capacity of 2.1 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene. This will raise Qatar’s ethylene production potential by nearly 70 per cent.

The ethane cracker will be the largest in the Middle East and one of the largest in the world.

The complex includes two polyethylene trains with a combined output of 1.68 million t/y of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) polymer products, raising Qatar’s overall petrochemical production capacity by 82 per cent to almost 14 million t/y.

QatarEnergy and CPChem signed the final investment decision (FID) agreement last January for the Ras Laffan petrochemicals complex, an integrated olefins and polyethylene facility being built in Qatar’s Ras Laffan Industrial City.

EPC contract awards

Along with the FID deal, QatarEnergy/CPChem awarded the two main contracts for the project’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) works.

A JV of South Korean contractor Samsung Engineering and CTCI of Taiwan was awarded the EPC contract for the ethylene plant.

Samsung Engineering said it would be in charge of the major ethylene production facilities, with its scope of work including furnaces, ethane (C2) hydrogenation, the hydrogen purification unit and three main compressors. CTCI is responsible for the utility infrastructure, including steam/condensate collecting and boiler feed water.

The EPC contract for the polyethylene plant was awarded to Italian contractor Maire Tecnimont, which announced the value of its contract to be $1.3bn.

Maire Tecnimont is required to execute the EPC of the main polyethylene plant, which includes two polyethylene units, with a capacity of 1 million t/y and 680,000 t/y, respectively, together with the associated utilities and offsite facilities. The Italian contractor’s scope of work also covers engineering services, equipment and material supply, erection and construction activities up to mechanical completion.

US-headquartered industrial digitalisation services provider Emerson was awarded the main automation contract for the Ras Laffan petrochemicals project.

The FID agreement and EPC contract awards were signed at a ceremony in Doha on 8 January 2023. Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, Qatar’s minister of state for energy affairs and president and CEO of QatarEnergy, and Bruce Chinn, president and CEO of CPChem, signed the agreement.

Giant petrochemicals scheme

In September 2022, MEED reported on the frontrunners to win the two main EPC contracts.

Japan-headquartered JGC Corporation and South Korea’s Daelim have performed the front-end engineering and design (feed) works on the Ras Laffan petrochemicals scheme as part of contracts they were awarded in 2020 by the QatarEnergy/CPChem JV.

QatarEnergy issued the main EPC tenders for the ethane cracker and HDPE unit EPC packages in October 2021. Contractors submitted technical bids on 5 May 2022, while commercial bids were submitted by 7 August of that year.

After receiving bids, QatarEnergy/CPChem engaged in technical clarifications and commercial discussions with contractors.

In June 2022, the QatarEnergy/CPChem JV awarded a package relating to early site works on the project to Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC).

QatarEnergy-CPChem partnership

The FID agreement for the Ras Laffan petrochemicals project came less than two months after QatarEnergy and CPChem reached the FID to execute the Golden Triangle polymers plant, an $8.5bn integrated polymers facility located on the Gulf of Mexico coast in the US state of Texas.

The project is owned by Golden Triangle Polymers Company, a JV in which CPChem owns a 51 per cent stake and QatarEnergy the other 49 per cent equity interest.

Located about 180 kilometres east of Houston, Texas, the plant will include an ethylene cracker unit, which will also have a capacity of 2.1 million t/y, and two HDPE units with a combined capacity of 2 million t/y, making them the largest derivatives units of their kind in the world.

EPC work on the project has started, with an expected commissioning date in 2026. CPChem will operate the facility after start-up.

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