Saudi Arabia's first factory to produce polyisobutylene (PIB), a chemical with a wide array of industrial uses, is set to be built following an agreement between global industrial giants.
The PIB complex deal was concluded when energy heavyweights Saudi Aramco and France-headquartered Total signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with South Korean engineering and construction company Daelim.
The front-end engineering and design (Feed) stage of the plant will begin this month and wrap up in Q4 2019. The complex will be located in Jubail, a massive industrial city approximately 400km from Riyadh.
Daelim has a track record of completing large-scale energy plants in Saudi Arabia, including a hydrocracker in Yanbu, as well as a butanol and syngas facility in Jubail.
Its project with Aramco and Total will be completed in 2024.
The plant will produce more than 70,000 tonnes of PIB, which will be exported to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The chemical will be used for a broad range of applications, including adhesives, lubricant, and fuel additives.
Located in Jubail, which is dubbed the largest industrial city in the world, the PIB plant is part of the Amiral petrochemical megaproject. Amiral will cost $9bn (SAR33.7bn) to develop and lead to the creation of 8,000 local jobs.
The megaproject was greenlit in April 2018, and will be overseen by Saudi Aramco (62.5%) and by Total (37.5%). It comprises the first mixed-feed cracker in the Arabian Gulf region to be integrated with a refinery.
The overall complex can be viewed as part of Saudi Aramco’s efforts to diversify its downstream operations, as the kingdom looks to insulate its economy from oil price volatility, such as the steep decline that rocked oil-exporting nations several years ago.