Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation (Adbic) wants to build a new petrochemicals complex in the emirate, meaning that three government-run organisations are now planning major new production facilities in the coming years.

Sources working on the project say that Adbic has approached a major international petrochemicals company and at least two engineering contractors over the scheme. Talks have been shrouded in secrecy, with all of the companies signing non-disclosure agreements.

The complex would be ‘liquid feed’, meaning that it would break down the gasoline product naphtha into its components to produce specialist chemicals. Adbic is most likely to target the production of polyethylene terepthalate (PET), used in the plastic bottles, says one executive with knowledge of the scheme.

The project has not been announced because Adbic is waiting for another Abu Dhabi state-run firm, Abu Dhabi National Chemicals Company (Chemaweyaat), to move ahead with the first phase of its planned petrochemicals complex at Taweelah.

This project, known as Tacaamol, will also use naphtha as a feedstock, to produce around 10 million tonnes-a-year (t/y) of chemicals. Tacaaamol will source the naphtha it needs, around 6 million t/y, from state refiner Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer).

Adbic would also want to source its feedstock from Takreer, but does not want any conflict to arise with Tacaamol, which is due to start production in 2015, says one senior executive with close ties to the company.

“They will wait to see how Chemaweyaat moves ahead, so maybe in late 2010, early 2011 we will hear a bit more about Adbic’s plans,” he says.

The company may also try to integrate its project into Chemaweyaat’s industrial city, perhaps making up the third phase of the project, adds one engineering executive in talks over the project.

To date, Abu Dhabi has only produced petrochemicals using the natural gas ethane as a feedstock. Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge) currently produces 600,000 tonnes a year of polyethylene at Ruwais, although second and third-phase expansions will bring the company’s output up to 4.5 million t/y by 2015. Borouge is already considering a fourth-phase production complex, Borouge 4, with feasibility studies due to start in 2011 (MEED 3:2:2020).

“The conflict would be having two or even three projects coming on stream at the same time,” says the engineering executive. “They are just waiting for the market to improve, as demand for petrochemicals has been poor over the past year.”

Adbic declined to comment on its plans to build a new petrochemicals complex in the emirate.