Saudi Organometallic Chemicals Company (Socc) has started up an aluminium alkyls plant in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to supply the regional market for specialty catalysts.

The operating company is a joint venture of US chemicals group Albemarle and Saudi Specialty Chemicals Company, an affiliate of chemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic).

The plant has the capacity to produce 6,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of tri-ethyl aluminium (TEA), a catalyst used in the plastics industry. The first batch of TEA was completed in mid-April and full-scale commercial production is expected to begin later in the third quarter of 2013.

South Korea’s Samsung Engineering won the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project in September 2012 in a deal worth $72m.