The local Sulb National Company (Sulb) has awarded the UAE’s Mabani Steel the contract to build the steel structure for the $67m steel plant it is building at Rabigh.

The first phase of the Sulb steel plant will consist of a melt shop that will produce 300,000 tonnes-a-year (t/y) of steel billets and is scheduled to begin operations in the second half of 2011.

“Our project aims to meet the growing demand for rolling mills of steel billet,” says Faisal Haddawi, chief executive, Sulb. “Consumption of the Saudi market of steel billet is around 7 million-t/y [and] the aim of our investment to contribute to bridging the deficit in the local market.”

Haddawi adds that the deficit in the kingdom’s market is about 1.8 million-t/y with the shortage covered through foreign imports. The Sulb facility will cover around 17 per cent of the shortage.

Sulb, a family-owned firm, is seeking financing from both private banks and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund for the facility. Other major Saudi Arabian steel producers include the state-owned Saudi iron and Steel Company (Hadeed) and the privately owned Al-Ittefaq Steel Products Company (ISPC) and Al-Rajhi Steel.