Qatar Petroleum (QP) and Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco) will send the solicitation of interest (SOI) to technology companies for the front-end engineering and design (feed) for their proposed new ethylene cracker in late 2012.

The cracker project will be part of the $5bn-plus Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex the joint venture partners plan to build in the gas-rich Gulf state.

“The SOI for the feed is expected to go to contractors in the fourth quarter of 2012,” says a source familiar with the project. “The ethylene club will all be vying to win the work as usual.”

The “ethylene club” is the name given to the five suppliers of cracker technology. They are:

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

The release of the SOI will clarify the situation, after some media outlets had stated Technip had been awarded a deal directly to provide the cracker technology. It is now certain this is not the case.

“There is going to be a tender floated and Technip will be invited to bid, in all likelihood, but no deal has been agreed yet with anyone,” says the source.  

The cracker will produce 1.4 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene when completed, which will feed other units at the proposed complex. A further 850,000 (t/y) of high-density polyethylene, 430,000 t/y of linear low-density polyethylene, 760,000 t/y of polypropylene and 83,000 t/y of butadiene will be produced.

QP will retain an 80 per cent share of the proposed complex with Qapco taking the remaining 20 per cent.

QP is also planning to build the $6.4bn Ras Laffan olefins project with the UK-Dutch Shell Group and the project is prequalifying contractors. The scope of works will include the production of about 2.5 million t/y of petrochemicals.

Both schemes are part of Doha’s plans to invest $25bn in Qatar’s petrochemicals industry over the next eight years. The investment will raise the country’s petrochemicals output to 23 million t/y by 2020, from its current production of 9.2 million t/y.