Plans are progressing at Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (ECHEM) to set up a major styrene/polystyrene complex near Alexandria as part of its 20-year masterplan for the petrochemicals sector.

The local Engineering for the Petroleum & Process Industries (Enppi)has been tasked with the process of selecting a polystyrene technology provider and to carry out pre-front-end engineering and design (FEED) works. Selected international licensors are expected to be approached within weeks.

The development follows the recent formation of the project company, Egyptian Styrenics (EStyrenics), and the appointment of former Egyptian Natural Gas Company (Gasco) executive Mamdouh Mohamed Mahmoud as chairman. ECHEM holds a 50 per cent stake in the new project firm, while 40 per cent is held by the Finance Ministry and National Investment Bank (NIB), the government body that handles the social security system and invests in public projects. The remaining 10 per cent stake is under negotiation with Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas, which, if a deal can be reached, will also act as the nominated engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor on the project.

Under the project’s first phase, ECHEM will build a 200,000-tonne-a-year facility that will produce two grades of polystyrene. Project completion is scheduled for 2009. Feedstock will initially be imported in the form of styrene monomer although no supply agreements are understood to have been concluded so far.

The project’s second phase foresees the construction of a styrene monomer facility to feed the polystyrene unit.