‘The groundwork is now being prepared for the two crackers,’ says a QP official. ‘The driver is the future availability of ethane and the fact that there is a willingness from our current partners to proceed with the projects.’

QP signed in June a joint venture agreement with the US’ Chevron Phillips Chemical Companyfor the Q-Chem II project. The two partners then signed in early October a memorandum of understanding with Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco)and France’s Atofina, which allowed for the companies to join the project as equity partners in the ethane cracker. At the time, QP said the new cracker would supply feedstock to a 750,000-t/y polyethylene plant, planned as part of the Q-Chem II project, with the remaining ethylene being delivered through a purpose-built pipeline to Mesaieed for additional petrochemical capacity (MEED 19:10:01).

QP says that it is looking to have the first cracker, Q-Chem II, commissioned in late 2006. The other, known as Qatarfin, will be built by QP and Atofina, a subsidiary of TotalFinaElf, and is due to be completed two years later. It is also expected to be located at Ras Laffan.

Industry sources say that on the more advanced Q-Chem II project, QP and its partner are finalising the scope of the ethylene derivatives. Some of the cracker’s output may still be delivered by pipeline to Mesaieed to support new downstream capacity there, they add.