Saudi Arabia: Speciality Chemicals Commissioning of the Largest Chemicals Complex Built in a Single Phase

Editor: Alexander Stark

Sadara, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and The Dow Chemical Company, announced the commissioning of the last of its 26 plants: an isocyanates section currently producing crude quantities of toluene di isocyanate (TDI) and other specialty chemicals.

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Commissioning ceremony of the chemical plants in Jubail
Commissioning ceremony of the chemical plants in Jubail
(Source: Sadara)

Jubail/Saudi Arabia — A first for the Gulf region, the TDI section is mainly used in the production of flexible polyurethane foam for furniture, mattresses, cushioning and car seats. TDI also has a variety of industrial uses, such as coatings, adhesives, sealants, specialty foams and other products.

The TDI section consists of three integrated units producing di nitro toluene (DNT), toluene di amine (TDA), and toluene di isocyanate (TDI). The DNT and TDA units started operations in April, and the TDI unit began crude production this week.

The isocyanates envelope also includes an unprecedented integrated facility producing PMDI or polymeric methylene di phenyl di isocyanate. The PMDI Plant began producing commercial quantities in early June.

Additionally, the company is producing another important polyurethane precursor — polyether polyols. The company’s Polyols Plant came on-stream in late July.

The world’s largest integrated chemicals complex ever built in a single phase, and established by the largest foreign direct investment in the Saudi petrochemicals industry, Sadara has been bringing its chemical plants on-stream and will produce more than three million tons of high-value performance plastics and specialty chemical products annually.

The plant’s mixed feed cracker started up in August 2016, cracking ethane gas and naphtha liquid feedstock to produce chemicals for the site’s other facilities. The joint venture’s four polyethylene production units came on-line between late 2015 and early 2017.

Thirty-two polyethylene products have been qualified to-date, serving more than 600 customers in 70 countries. An additional four new polyethylene products will be added to the manufacturer’s capabilities by year-end.

Sadara’s specialty chemicals portfolio includes facilities that manufacture propylene oxide, propylene glycol, ethylene oxide, glycol ethers, amines, isocyanates and polyether polyols.

High Hopes for Domestic Value Chain

The commissioning was celebrated in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and Saudi Aramco Chairman, His Excellency Khalid A. Al-Falih; Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris; and Ahmad Saadi, Chairman of Sadara and Saudi Aramco Senior Vice President of Technical Services at the Sadara complex in Jubail Industrial City II.

Al-Falih said, “In addition to transforming the Kingdom from a consumer and importer to a global exporter, Sadara will create new value chains and technologies that will attract foreign and domestic investment, spurring new sectors and entrepreneurial business, and creating thousands of manufacturing jobs for Saudis. In this way, Sadara is perfectly aligned with the Kingdom’s national transformation goals as expressed in Vision 2030. By driving non-oil sector growth, innovation and better-life opportunities, Sadara will deliver progress and prosperity now, and for generations to come.”

Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin H. Nasser called Sadara a major milestone in Saudi Aramco’s strategic intent to become the world’s foremost integrated energy and chemicals company.

“Sadara is a flagship chemicals project that significantly advances our ability to derive the maximum value from every hydrocarbon molecule, and to participate more broadly across the petroleum value chain,” Nasser said.

Beneficial Impacts of the Project

The joint venture will serve the needs of Dow customers across the Asia Pacific, India, the Middle East, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

To date, Sadara has more than 4,100 employees, the majority of whom are Saudis. Almost 2,000 of these employees have completed intensive, technology-centric, on-the-job training (OJT) programs at various Saudi Aramco and Dow sites in Saudi Arabia and around the world for advanced chemicals production technologies knowledge.

In addition, the Plaschem Park, a world-class industrial park for chemical and conversion industries created by a collaboration between Sadara and the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, is expected to attract quality investments.