QR5bn ethylene plant opens in Ras Laffan

Qatar’s lead position in the global petrochemical industry has been further consolidated with the formal inauguration of the QR5bn world-scale ethane cracker at Ras Laffan yesterday.  HH the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani inaugurated the plant that is set up by Ras Laffan Olefins Company

Ras Laffan Olefins Company (RLOC) ‘successfully commencing production’ on 4 May 2010.

RLOC is a joint venture among Qatofin (45.7%), Q-Chem II (53.3%) and QP (1%). The RLOC plant will be managed and operated by Q-Chem II.

Ras Laffan Olefins Company has set up a world-scale ethane cracker plant at Ras Laffan, which will process (crack) the natural ethane gas from the North Field into ethylene for producing various plastic polymers.

The type of gas used for ethylene production is ethane, which is recovered during gas processing. So, whenever there is a development on Qatar’s gas projects – be it pipeline or GTL – there will be more ethane available.

The project will have a capacity of 1.3mn tonnes of ethylene each year, guaranteeing a ‘steady supply’ of the raw material to both Qatofin and Q-Chem.

The production capacity is expandable to 1.6mn tonnes per year at a later stage. The capacity boost, however, would depend on development of the other projects that mainly supply the feedstock.By making Ras Laffan its base, RLOC will have easy access to feedstock from the Dolphin and Al Khaleej Gas.

Ethylene produced by RLOC will be pumped from Ras Laffan to the Qatofin and Q-Chem plants in Mesaieed through a purpose-built high-pressure 120km pipeline.

The mega project exploits vast economies of scale and the unique synergies that exist in Qatar’s well-developed hydrocarbons sector to build exceptional value into the system.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project has been carried out by Technip France.

The RLOC Cracker is said to be among the largest constructed in the world. The RLOC site will cover an area of 60 hectares.

“The Ras Laffan Olefins Company is a critical step in consolidating Qatar’s position as one of the leading suppliers of polyethylene in the world. It will also establish new synergies within the industry by exploiting inherent economies of scale for maximum advantage.” (Gulf Times)