The German firm has received a letter of intent for the contract from Qapco. The plant will produce low-density polyethylene, commonly used to make plastic bags. Other uses include bottles, tubing and computer hard drives.

Uhde will carry out basic engineering on the plant, which will have a capacity of 250,000 tonnes a year (t/y), although that can be expanded to 300,000 t/y.

The technology licence holder on the unit is Europe’s Basell, which has licensed its Lupotech polyethylene production technology.

Tenders for the engineering, procurement and construction contract are expected to be issued at the end of 2008.

Because of licensing restrictions, only a few overseas contractors are likely to be able to bid for the work. They include Italy’s Tecnimont, the UK’s Simon Carves and Uhde.

The construction should be completed by the end of 2010, with commercial operations starting in early 2011. Ethylene feedstock for the unit will be sourced from excess capacity at Qapco’s ethylene expansion project and surplus supplies will be delivered to the Qatofin complex at Mesaieed from the ethane cracker at Ras Laffan.

Qapco is an 80:20 joint venture of Industries Qatar and Total Petrochemicals of France.

Total is also thought to be in talks with Qatar Petroleum to develop a major petrochemicals complex at Ras Laffan (MEED 16:11:07).