Shortlisting of a foreign partner on the planned Ras Tanura refinery upgrade and petrochemicals integration project is due to take place in the first half of 2006, according to Azzam Shalabi, director of new business evaluation at Saudi Aramco. 'We are still in the marketing phase,' he said on the sidelines of the IBC Gulf International Refinery forum in Dubai on 6 December. 'We expect to draw up a shortlist early next year before awarding the contract.'
Much like its first refinery and petrochemicals integration project at Rabigh, Aramco is looking for a foreign investor to take a minority stake in the project company to oversee the project. 'We are not looking to find a partner from any one particular region,' said Shalabi. 'Any company is welcome to participate.' The estimated $6,000 million Ras Tanura scheme will involve an upgrade of the existing refinery and its integration with a new petrochemicals complex. Proposed units include an ethane/naphtha steam cracker to produce 1.2 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene and 400,000 t/y of propylene, an aromatics complex to produce 400,000 t/y of benzene and 460,000 t/y of paraxylene and a speciality mix of purefied terephthalic acid (PTA), polyethylene teraphthalate resins (PET), toluene di-osocyanate (TDI) or methyl diphenyl di-isocyanate (MDI), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins, and acrylonitrile (ACN). Tenders for the scheme's front-end engineering and design (FEED) are expected to be issued soon. Projected start-up is set for 2010. Aramco is also planning a third integration project at Yanbu. Projected to come on stream in 2012, the scheme will entail upgrading the 235,000-barrel-a-day refinery, in addition to building a steam cracker and aromatics complex. As with Ras Tanura, the company is looking to develop a diverse mix of petrochemical products.