UAE aromatics gathering pace

06 September 2012

Tenders for first phase of Abu Dhabi-based aromatics project expected fourth quarter of 2012

Abu Dhabi’s Chemaweyaat project seems to be making progress in 2012 after a few false starts. While the Saudi petrochemicals industry is expanding and diversifying at an unprecedented rate, its UAE counterpart has up to now been largely focused on the polyolefins operations of Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge).

Since Borouge was formed 10 years ago, its expansion of cracking capacity has been impressive in establishing the UAE as a significant player in the global plastics industry. Other projects, however, have been slow to get off the ground.

Abu Dhabi National Chemicals Company (Chemaweyaat) was created in 2008 to compliment Borouge by adding aromatics and downstream chemicals to Abu Dhabi’s portfolio, delivering a masterplan including at least a dozen plants on two sites. The project has been through a few false starts, but now appears to be making progress towards realisation with its first phase.

In the years since its formation, Chemaweyaat appointed the UK’s Halcrow Group as consultants and reportedly awarded the front-end engineering design (feed) to Finland’s Neste Jacobs and the project management consultancy (PMC) to Australia’s WorleyParsons. The latter two deals subsequently fell through.

At the end of 2011, the project looked to be in limbo until a new PMC deal was signed with US-based Foster Wheeler, this time focusing on the phase 1 aromatics reformer and downstream units in Ruwais. With feed tenders for the aromatics project now expected to be issued in the fourth quarter of 2012, the project now appears to be gathering steam.

At this stage, it is still unclear whether Chemaweyaat intends to use its second site in Taweelah, between Abu Dhabi city and the Dubai border. It is also unclear if its original masterplan remains intact or has been downscaled to focus on the production of aromatics chemicals.

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