gasworld is trying to promote more news on the industrial gases business in the Middle East. What we have learned is that there are some significant projects involving ASUs in the Middle East at present and we provide some in-sight into what opportunities exit for international and local players.

PIC (Kuwait National Petrochemical Co.) and Dow are in the final discussion on the major petrochemical complex slated for Kuwait – Equate 2. This will include ethylene and ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol and will require a plant in excess of 1 000 tpd oxygen capacity. As yet the two companies are weighing up their options as whether to outsource the industrial gas requirements or buy a plant.

Another petrochemical complex in the final feasibility stage is the project slated for Sohar in Oman (Natural gas based). The first phase will require a small on-site plant which is likely to have liquid capacity to supply the merchant market. If the whole facility is built as planned there is an apparent need for a large ASU to supply the chemicals facility.

Major GTL projects geared for Qatar are likely to have huge requirements for gaseous oxygen. The first major project involving Sasol and Qatar Gas involves 7 000 tpd of oxygen (2 x 3 500 tpd ASUs). Air Products secured the order to supply the plants on a sale of equipment basis and we understand the cold boxes have been completed (built in Acrefair, Wales). The next project involves Shell and will be twice as large as Sasol. The first train will require nearly 14 000 tpd of oxygen (4 x 3 500 tpd ASUs) although the order has not yet been finalised. A feasibility study for a third serious GTL project involving Exxon is underway which is expected to be similar sized to Shell. So by 2012, there could be in excess of 60 000 tpd of oxygen production installed in Qatar for these three projects alone.

While GTL is making the headlines in Qatar, QAPCO – the Qatar petrochemicals company is looking to expand its petrochemicals facility which is also likely to require a large ASU as there is likely to be EDC and /or Ethylene glycol production and possibly methanol.

A number of projects are planned for Saudi Arabia – both in Yanbu (west coast) and in Al Jubail (east coast). Yansab has been announced which will involve the largest ever ethylene cracker (1.7 million tons). So far the petrochemicals facilities in Yanbu have included polyethylene and ethylene glycol downstream units. Should ethylene glycol be part of Yansab – this will require a 2-3 000 tpd unit. Meanwhile Sabic’s industrial gas subsidiary NIGC, has recently (in February) commissioned its 3 200 tpd unit supplied by Linde Engineering.

The above activity relates to the opportunities on the Arab side of the Gulf; but in Iran – major petrochemical facilities have also led to opportunities for large scale ASUs (plant sales). Linde recently (2004) commissioned a 3 000 tpd unit in Assuleyah on behalf of the utility supplier and the National Petrochemical Co of Iran.