BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco) has announced plans to build a new plant at a cost of QR1.2bn ($330m) to enhance its “de-bottlenecking” capacity. The new plant in Mesaieed Industrial City will help produce 400,000 metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) of additional ethylene by 2016.
“We have plans to increase the installed ethylene production capacity of Qapco from the existing 800,000MTPA to approximately 1.2 million MTPA,” Dr Mohammed Yousef Al Mulla (pictured), Vice-Chairman and CEO of Qapco, told The Peninsula.
He said Qapco currently produces nearly 725,000MTPA of ethylene from its two de-bottlenecking plants, EP1 and EP2, both located in Mesaieed, and with the commissioning of the third plant (EP3), the total installed capacity will reach up to 1.2 million MTPA.
De-bottlenecking include activities that help improve system capacity by removing constraints such as by-products within a piece of equipment or production process.
Qapco, the 80:20 joint venture between Industries Qatar (IQ) and Total, was established about four decades ago to fully utilise the country’s huge natural resources, including by-products from its oil and gas industries, by processing, transforming and adding value to them. Since then, Qapco has witnessed continuous growth to become one of the leading petrochemical powerhouses in the region.
“We are almost at the final stages of launching the project. If everything goes as per the schedule, it will start operating within next three years”, Al Mullah said.
The new project, according to Al Mulla, is a joint venture of Qapco, Qatar Petroleum and Total. However, he did not provide further details about the equity interests of each partner.
Over 80 percent of ethylene output is consumed domestically in the low density polyethylene (LDPE) plants of Qapco and its subsidiary Qatar Vinyl Company (QVC), and the rest, nearly 150,000MT, is exported to overseas markets.
Al Mulla said that the third plant will primarily be producing ethane and propane. These two isolated products are mainly used as petrochemical feedstock for ethylene production, which is widely used in chemical industry. Ethylene is also an important natural plant hormone used in agriculture to force the ripening of fruits.