Qatar, Chevron Phillips to build Giant Gas Cracker

25.06.2019 -

State-run Qatar Petroleum (QP) and US-based Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPC) have announced plans for a new ethane cracker complex at Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar. The project will be operated as a joint venture, with Chevron Phillips Chemical owning 30% and QP 70%.

The new facilities, due to go on stream in 2025, will be fed from the rich gas reserves of the country’s North Field, Qatar Petroleum CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said at a news conference in Doha on Jun. 24.

In addition to the cracker with an ethylene output of about 1.9 million t/y –which would make it the largest in the Middle East and one of the biggest worldwide, according to Al-Kaabi – the complex is to include downstream polyethylene plants that would raise capacity by nearly 1.7 million t/y against the current 2.3 million t/y.

Along with the exclusive licensing of its MarTECH loop slurry process for HDPE, Chevron Phillips Chemical will provide project management, engineering and construction services for the project until start-up, when it will potentially be run by QP affiliates.

Al-Kaabi, who doubles as energy minister, said the decision to build a new complex was driven by the ongoing expansion of the offshore North Field, the world’s largest active gas field, which Qatar shares with Iran. The expansion is expected to yield “significant quantities” of feedstock-grade ethane, he said.

“We saw better results than expected from the North Field, and we were able to have more ethane available for extraction,” the CEO told journalists, explaining why the cracker will be bigger than the 1.6 million t initially envisioned.

While declining to put a ballpark figure on the potential investment cost, pending completion of an engineering study, Al-Kaabi said it would range into the “billions of dollars.”  Contracts for engineering, procurement and construction are to be awarded this year.

Qatar is still undecided as to whether to produce LNG on its own or with partners. The Middle East sheikdom is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. National LNG production, currently around 77 million bbl, is expected to grow about 43% up 2024, thanks to the North Field expansion.