Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) and Japan’s Mitsubishi Rayon Company (MRC) have instructed Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas to carry out an accelerated front-end engineering and design (feed) for two new petrochemicals plants worth about $500m in Saudi Arabia.

Tecnicas Reunidas was first awarded the feed in January 2012, but discussions over how the technology will be licensed have caused a delay in the project which meant the Spanish contractor could not start work until late June.

“Whatever differences Sabic and MRC have had are now fully resolved and the work is progressing,” says a contracting source based in Saudi Arabia. “Tecnicas Reunidas have been told to do the work as quickly as possible to ensure any lost time is made up.”

The source adds the work will take about six months to complete and the tentative date for the release of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) tenders is early 2013.

The two plants will produce methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and will be built at Jubail in the Eastern Province.

The capacity for the MMA is 250,000 tonnes a year (t/y), which will make it the largest of its type in the world. The PMMA plant is smaller in scale and will have a capacity of 40,000-t/y.

MMA and PMMA have a number of downstream uses including machinery, electrical components and gears and both plants fall in line with Sabic’s move to become a key player in the kingdom’s downstream industries.

Sabic and Lucite International, a subsidiary of MRC are 50:50 joint venture partners for the project.

The feed award was the start of what is turning into a superb year for Tecnicas Reunidas in the kingdom. In June, the company was recently awarded three packages worth a combined $805m at the Sadara Chemical Company’s new $20 petrochemicals project, as well as two packages at Sabic and ExxonMobil’s $3.4bn elastomers project. Both schemes will also be built in Jubail.

Tecnicas Reunidas is also set to carry out the EPC for a 140,000-t/y acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plant in Jubail for Sabic subsidiary Petrokemya.