News Code : 43454

Saudi Aramco's Motiva Enterprises subsidiary is planning to build polyethylene units and a multi-unit aromatics complex that would make paraxylene, benzene and other products for sale and export, according to documents the company filed with the Texas Comptroller's Office.

Petrotahlil :Motiva late last year filed documents detailing its plans to build a $4.7 billion ethane-fed steam cracker and a $1.9 billion aromatics complex on the site of its Port Arthur, Texas refinery. The second set of documents, filed in August and made public last week, provide more detail about specific units.

The company has not made a final investment decision on the overall project.

The filing regarding polyethylene said Motiva Enterprises was evaluating whether to build "multiple world-scale ethylene derivative units" that would make polyethylene, a resin used to manufacture the most-used plastics in the world. Those include pipes, grocery bags, milk jugs, food and beverage containers, detergent bottles, pails and drums. The filing said the estimated cost of the units would be $2.72 billion.

The aromatics complex would use reformate, a high-octane gasoline blendstock, and other supplemental feedstocks to produce paraxylene and benzene for petrochemical manufacturing as well as other intermediates to use as feedstocks for the refinery and gasoline blending. Those units were estimated to cost $1.7 billion, according to the documents.

The documents said that if the company signs off on the polyethylene and aromatics units, construction is proposed to begin in the fourth quarter of 2020 with completion targeted for the fourth quarter of 2024.

The documents did not specify capacities for the cracker, polyethylene units or plants in the aromatics complex.

The cracker and polyethylene units would be part of a second wave of petrochemical infrastructure to capitalize on cheap ethane unearthed by the US natural gas boom. Of 13 PE plants starting up in the first wave, 2017-19, nine are operational, and four more are slated to start up by year end. Six of eight new crackers starting up in the same span are operational.

The second wave, seen as 2020 and beyond, is expected to bring six more crackers online if all projects are approved, as well as 15 more PE plants. The Motiva units would be in addition to those.

Saudi Aramco has repeatedly stated its intention to grow its petrochemical operations, both in Texas and elsewhere.

In April last year, the company signed memorandum of understanding with Honeywell UOP and Technip FMC to evaluate technologies for a chemical complex at the Port Arthur refinery.

And in November, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser, speaking at the annual GPCA forum in Dubai, said the company aims to ultimately use 70% of the crude it produces for petrochemical production as a long-term strategy.

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