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Egypt Moves Forward on $6-Billion Petrochemical Project

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Egypt’s Carbon Holdings Ltd. has signed a $600-million agreement with Abu Dhabi-based Drake & Scull International (DSI) for the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of utilities and off-site facilities at the $6-billion Tahrir Petrochemical Project, 40 kilometers south of the city of Suez, at the head of the Suez Canal.

DSI joins several other companies that already have secured contracts with Carbon Holdings for the construction of the petrochemicals complex, expected to break ground in 2015 following a financial close by the end of this year.

“DSI is pleased to be part of an international consortium delivering this vital project [that] will transform Egypt’s petrochemical sector,” said Khaldoun Tabari, CEO of DSI, in May.

He said Egypt remains the company’s key market in North Africa. The petrochemicals project will enable the company to strengthen its position in the oil-and-gas, wastewater and water treatment, and hospitality sectors, he added.

The CEO said his company will exclusively use Milan-based Maire Tecnimont S.p.A and Netherlands’ Archirodon Group to collaborate in undertaking the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) activities related to the project’s utilities and off-site facilities.

“Tahrir Petrochemicals Complex marks our vision to further strengthen the petrochemical sector of the country and strengthen foreign direct investments,” said Basil El-Baz, CEO of Carbon Holdings.

The company is an industrial developer and operator that implements downstream oil-and-gas projects in Egypt.

The $1.7-billion deal, signed in April, gives Maire Tecnimont a mandate to construct a seawater desalination system, wastewater treatment plant, powerplant, and auxiliary packages and systems.

Archirodon Group will be responsible for the supply of sea and jetty works, tanks, pipelines and their construction.

The petrochemicals complex will comprise a 4-million-tonne-per-year naphtha cracker and related downstream facilities with the capacity to produce 1.4 million tpy of polyethylene, 900,000 tpy of propylene, 250,000 tpy of butadiene, 350,000 tpy of benzene and 100,000 tpy of hexene. When completed, it is anticipated to be one of the largest naphtha liquid cracker projects in the world and create 20,000 jobs.

General Electric earlier had secured a $500-million equity and technology contract with Carbon Holdings for the supply of advanced aero-derivatives gas turbines, steam turbines, generators, water filtration and desalination equipment, turbo machinery compressors and industrial solutions services.

Korean contractor SK E&C will be in charge of constructing a $900-million polyethylene plant, including design, procurement and construction. German-based gases group Linde will construct the ethylene plant.

Foster Wheeler will manage the entire project, while U.S. engineer KBR will execute the front-end engineering design for the complex's nitrate plant.

Carbon Holdings hopes to secure an estimated $3.4 billion in funding and loan guarantees from the Export-Import Banks of the U.S. and Korea, Korea Insurance Corp. and SACE, the Italian Export Credit Agency.

Carbon Holdings, which hopes the project will lead to other petrochemical and downstream projects in Egypt, says the petrochemical complex will produce polyethylene and polypropylene to meet increasing demand in Egypt, which relies entirely on imports at present.

The polyolefins will be produced using natural-gas feedstock. Speaking to reporters in Cairo on June 12, Sherif Ismail, Egypt’s oil minister, said the country hopes to increase natural-gas production by 500 million cu ft per day by December, after several gas fields are operational. This project will bring Egypt’s total production to an estimated 5.2 bcf short of the 5.4 bcf projected for July 1.


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