Kuwait’s Qurain Petrochemical Industries Company (QPIC) is still waiting for a decision on the supply of paraxylene for use as a feedstock for its planned $1.2bn integrated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

QPIC has applied for the paraxylene feedstock from the $9.6bn Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (Satorp) refining complex that is currently under construction in Jubail. Satorp is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and France’s Total.

“There is still no decision either way from Satorp,” says a chemicals industry source based in Saudi Arabia. “The project fits in with the kingdom’s downstream diversity plans, but there are other companies who covet Satorp’s paraxylene.”

MEED reported in March that there are several interested parties vying for the right to build the PET plant in Jubail. Market sources now say that QPIC and the local National Industrialisation Company (Tasnee) are the best placed to secure a deal.

The reason the decision has taken longer than anticipated is because the proposed scheme will use Satorp’s entire offtake of 660,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of paraxylene. This will in turn produce about 1 million t/y of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), 800,000 t/y of PET as well as other downstream products.

The lack of a decision is now beginning to make the original timeline look optimistic for the project. The front-end engineering and design (feed) award has been earmarked for January 2013 with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract awards due for late 2013 and a completion date set for late 2016.

“This is all very possible if there is a decision within the next few months,” says the source. “Usually engineering consultants can execute a quick feed phase if required simply by throwing more man-hours at it. However, if the decision has not been made by the end of the year then [the original timeline] will start to look less and less likely.”  

Some of the PTA will be offered to local markets, while most will be converted to PET resin. The complex will support the downstream conversion industry in Saudi Arabia in the production of bottle pre-forms, sheet and films for the packaging of food and consumer goods.