Qatar Petroleum plans new world-scale ethane cracker

Piping in Factory | PCI Wood Mackenzie

Qatar Petroleum (QP) recently announced it has invited a group of leading international companies with extensive experience in the petrochemical industry to submit proposals for partnering with QP in the development and operation of a new world-scale petrochemicals complex at Ras Laffan Industrial City. If completed, how will it fit into Qatar’s existing ethylene asset portfolio?

Qatar’s existing footprint
The existing ethylene assets in Qatar include:

Operator Location Nameplate Ethylene Capacity (ktpa)
Q-Chem Mesaieed 600
QAPCO Mesaieed 900
RLOC Ras Laffan 1,300

These assets are well-positioned in the Middle East and are highly competitive in the global ethylene cost curve. Assuming that no structural changes to ethane pricing mechanisms take place in Qatar, a rising oil price forecast by Wood Mackenzie from 2020 forward would only act to further support cash cost margins and profitability.

2017 ethylene cost of production for all Middle East existing assets

Source: PCI Wood Mackenzie

What has been proposed?
This petrochemicals complex will include an ethane cracker with a capacity of more than 1.6 million tons per year of ethylene, which would make it the largest ethane cracker in the Middle East and one of the world’s largest, and world-class derivatives plants. The feedstock for this new facility will be ethane-produced primarily from the new North Field LNG expansion project, as well as existing gas projects producing ethane. Work on the complex’s engineering design should commence shortly, leading to a planned start-up in 2025.

How will this proposed project fit into the current landscape?
If commenced, this project would take Qatar’s total nameplate ethylene capacity to over 4.5 million tons – an over 50% increase from the current level. Beyond existing, firm and likely ethylene capacity, PCI Wood Mackenzie forecasts that an additional 65 million tons of new capacity will be needed by 2035 just to meet global base demand – which equates to around 4 to 5 world-scale steam crackers being brought online each year.

This ethylene project joins a growing list of developments from the Middle East region. Several announcements have taken place in 2018, predominantly around refinery integration. There are also projects currently under construction in Oman and Iran, based around a variety of feedstocks. To stay up-to-date on these new developments and understand the effects on short- and long-term outlooks, considering subscribing to one of our ethylene services.

Patrick Kirby – Olefins

Author: Patrick Kirby – Olefins

Patrick joined Wood Mackenzie’s Chemicals team in 2013 as an olefins analyst in the EMEARC region, with almost a decade of direct experience in the petrochemical industry with CMAI as a senior consultant in the EMEA region, and with SABIC Europe. Patrick graduated with a first class MEng degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Manchester (formerly UMIST) and is a chartered engineer with the IChemE. Contact: patrick.kirby@woodmac.com Tel: +44 (0)203 0600523