Saudi Aramco Review

PetroRabigh ... expanding

PetroRabigh ... expanding

­Rabigh 2 expansion get green light

The multi-billion joint venture project is part of Saudi Aramco’s plans to become an energy firm focusing on chemicals, unconventional gas and renewables

SAUDI ARAMCO and Sumitomo Chemical have decided to proceed with an expansion of their joint venture PetroRabigh complex in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, and said they expect the project to come on stream from 2016.

The companies decided to move ahead with the project, named Rabigh 2, after conducting a joint feasibility study. As part of the next phase of implementation, the companies are now finalizing the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts and project financing.

Rabigh 2 involves expanding the 1.3 million tonne per year (mtpy) ethane cracker and building a new aromatics complex to process 30 million standard cubic feet perday of ethane and approximately 3 mtpy of naphtha, to provide feedstock for a variety of downstream plants, Aramco and Sumitomo said in separate statements. They estimate the investment cost at $7 billion.

The plants are scheduled to start coming on stream in the first half of 2016, the companies said. The project was previously estimated to start up in 2014-2015 but has taken longer than expected while the companies finalised the studies.

Timing of the project seems reasonable, says Graham Hoar, Bahrain-based Middle East director at global consultancy Nexant. “Most of these plants have a 36-month EPC period and a further year is typically required for financing, DD (due diligence) and closure,” he says. “I therefore think that from Q2 2012, a Q2 2016 time frame is reasonable.”

Aramco and Sumitomo said the main downstream products will be ethylene propylene rubber (EPR), thermoplastic poly-olefins, methyl methacrylate (MMA), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), low density polyethylene (LDPE)/ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), paraxylene (PX), benzene, cumene and phenol/acetone.

Other product lines are also planned. “With respect to acrylic acid, superabsorbent polymer, caprolactam (capro), nylon 6 and polyols, Sumitomo Chemical and Saudi Aramco will continue to explore the best possible mode of operation to implement projects on those product lines, including possible collaboration with a third party,” states Sumitomo.

PetroRabigh is a joint venture in which Aramco and Sumitomo each hold a 37.5 per cent stake.

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