Saudi firm lets contract for new petrochemical plant project


By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, May 6 -- Gulf Farabi Petrochemicals Co. Ltd. has named a Foster Wheeler Ltd. subsidiary as project manager to oversee development of a $250 million petrochemical plant in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

The plant is slated to produce 120,000 tonnes/year of n-paraffin and 70,000 tonnes/year of linear alkylbenzene (LAB). About 55,000 tonnes/year of n-paraffin will be dedicated to LAB production while the rest will be exported to Asia, Foster Wheeler said.

The LAB production will be used for both domestic consumption and for export to the Middle East and Africa, Foster Wheeler added.

The n-paraffins and LAB plant will utilize proprietary UOP LLC processes for use in adsorptive separation technology to extract n-paraffins from kerosine, producing purified n-olefins from the n-paraffins, and producing LAB.

The Gulf Farabi Petrochemicals plant will be built adjacent to the Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery Co. refinery, which will supply the kerosine feedstock. In addition, Gulf Farabi Petrochemicals will collaborate with local producers to supply nitrogen and hydrogen.

Phase 1 is slated for completion by yearend, and engineering has begun. During Phase 1, Foster Wheeler will develop project specifications, prepare an environmental impact assessment, and invite bids for the engineering, procurement, and construction contract.

Plant completion and commercial production start-up are slated for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Gulf Farabi Petrochemicals is a new company formed by the Al-Rajhi group of companies, Al Rajhi International Contracting. Gulf Farabi's business plan is to expand its portfolio into petrochemicals, and this investment is its first venture into that market.

This is the second recent announcement involving the petrochemical complex in Al Jubail. Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC and Saudi Industrial Investment Group plan a $1 billion addition to their existing facilities there (OGJ, Apr. 22, 2002, p. 9).

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