Yanbu LAB project receives SIDF funding

08 February 2002

Plans for a grassroots linear alkyl benzene (LAB) and n-paraffin complex in Yanbu have taken a significant step forward following approval by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) of $115 million-worth of loan funding. The estimated $250 million project is to be implemented by a new venture, Saudi Indo Petrochemical Company (Sipco- MEED 22:6:01).

Sipco will be a 60:40 joint venture between Bahrain-registered Gulf Petroproduct Companyand a group of local investors led by the AH Al-Zamil Group. Gulf Petroproduct is itself a 50:50 venture between the Saudi Offset Limited Partnership (SOLP)and India's Tamilnadu Petroproduct (TPL).

In addition to the SIDF funding, the project will be financed by equity and a commercial loan. Apicorp Taylor-DeJongh Advisory Services, the alliance between Al-Khobar-based Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp)and the US' Taylor-DeJongh, has been appointed financial adviser and is preparing the information memorandum for the commercial borrowing.

The complex will have a capacity of 100,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of n-paraffin and 80,000 t/y of LAB. Detailed negotiations over the licensing for the two units are expected to begin in mid February with the US' UOP. The appointments of a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contractor and a project management consultant are scheduled for mid 2002.

The client says that the majority of the plant's output has already been committed. N-paraffin, surplus to the LAB production, will be taken by TPL. The LAB, a primary component in the manufacture of detergents, will be sold in the kingdom and the region.

SOLP was established under the Saudi economic offset programme as a private equity development venture. It was founded by Bahrain-based DevCorp International, which is also a general partner. The US' Raytheon Companyis a limited partner with a $25 million investment, while France's Thales Internationalhas recently made a $10 million contribution.

A second LAB/n-paraffin complex is under development in Jubail by the local Al-Rajhi International Contracting(MEED 27:7:01).

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