At October’s K Show, the plastics convention held every three years in Dusseldorf, Germany, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) made a statement of intent.

The petrochemicals giant invested millions of dollars on its conference stand and about 150 employees were flown in from around the world to tell delegates about Sabic’s plans for future growth. The message from Sabic was clear – it means business.

The $5bn Elastomer Carbon Black project is one of the cornerstones of Sabic’s growth plans in the kingdom. The joint venture with the US’ ExxonMobil Chemical will produce around 400,000 tonne-a-year (t/y) of carbon black, rubber and thermoplastic speciality polymers.

The decision to move the entire project to Jubail from Saudi Yanbu Petrochemical Company (Yanpet) site at Yanbu was taken after a study proved that a duel-site strategy was unfeasible.

Such obstacles are common in the early stages of a project and it is to the joint venture partner’s credit that a quick decision was taken on such a large project.

The Elastomer project is also interesting in that the product mix is almost exclusively used by the automotive industry to strengthen rubber and plastics.

There have been rumours for years now that the kingdom is looking to develop a car industry. This project might be the first step in that direction.
While many other of the world’s top chemicals producers are still analysing the mistakes of the past, Sabic is looking firmly to the future.