Ineos agreed last week to build a linear alpha olefin plant and a polyalphaolefin plant in Saudi Arabia as part of a larger petrochemical project being developed by Saudi Aramco and Total. The PAO plant would be the first such facility in the Middle East.
The LAO and PAO plants will both begin production in 2025, according to a press release issued by Ineos. It added that the LAO plant will have capacity of 400,000 metric tons per year but did not disclose the size of the PAO plant. The facilities, along with an acrylonitrile plant, are part of a $2 billion investment.
PAO molecules are made by assembling chains of octane, decene and dodecene – LAOs with chains of eight, 10 and 12 carbon atoms respectively – to reach the molecular weights and performance targets desired by customers. High-viscosity PAOs are typically used as lubricant additives, while low-viscosity PAOs are used as base stocks.
Though LAO plants operate within the region, the Ineos PAO plant will be the first of its kind in the Middle East, Ineos claims. Stephen B. Ames, of SBA Consulting in Pepper Pike, Ohio, is skeptical of the investment, noting that PAO plants are normally closer to low-cost ethylene feedstock and large customer demand. [Chevron Phillips Chemical] had the same consideration in 2010 when their Q-Chem II joint venture built an LAO plant in Qatar, he told Lube Report. They decided against co-locating a PAO plant.
Saudi Aramco and Totals $5 billion Jubail 2 petrochemical complex in the industrial city of Jubail will house the Ineos units.
It will become the London-based companys third PAO plant, joining its Feluy, Belgium, and La Porte, Texas, facilities. According to LubesnGreases 2018 Nonconventional Base Stocks Guide, those plants have capacities of 125,000 t/y and 105,000 t/y, respectively.
Ineos said the new Saudi Arabia plant will allow it to better serve the Middle East and Asia markets.
In December 2017, the company announced plans to build a 120,000 t/y low-viscosity PAO unit on its Chocolate Bayou, Texas, site, with start-up scheduled for the third quarter of 2019.
Ineos ranks among the three biggest PAO producers in the world, which make up 90 percent of global PAO production. ExxonMobil Chemical owns facilities located in Gravenchon, France; Baytown, Texas; and Beaumont, Texas, with combined capacity of 284,000 t/y. Chevron Phillips Chemical has a combined capacity of 130,000 t/y at its units in Beringen, Belgium; Baytown, Texas; and Pasadena, Texas.