Petro Rabigh commissions expanded ethylene unit

Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Co. (Petro Rabigh), a joint venture of Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical Co., has completed mechanical works for a project designed to increase ethylene capacity at Petro Rabigh’s refinery and chemicals complex in the port city of Rabigh on the Red Sea (OGJ Online, Oct. 22, 2012).

The company completed mechanical works for the Rabigh Phase 2 ethane cracker expansion in March, lifting ethane gas processing capacity by 30 MMcfd to 125 MMcfd, Petro Rabigh said.

The expansion, which raises the unit’s ethylene production capacity to 1.6 million tonnes/year from 1.3 million tpy, is slated to increase Petro Rabigh’s sales revenue in 2016 by 750 million riyals, the company said.

Petro Rabigh executed activities to expand the ethane cracker during a scheduled total shutdown of its 400,000-b/d integrated refining and petrochemical complex in October 2015, at which time the company also completed maintenance to the high-olefins catalytic cracking unit, crude heater convention section tubes, hydrogen reformer tubes, vacuum distillation tower, seawater-intake basin, and six refinery substations, according to Petro Rabigh’s 2015 annual report issued on Feb. 25.

During 2015, the newly expanded ethane cracker already had reached a processing rate of 113 MMcfd vs. its initial design capacity of 95 MMcfd, the company said.

Rabigh Phase 2 update

Petro Rabigh, which recently took full ownership of Rabigh Phase 2 from the company’s founding shareholders, said it continues to progress with construction work on remaining components of the Phase 2 project, which is expects to complete in September.

With the expanded ethane cracker now on stream, Rabigh Phase 2’s remaining units are scheduled for gradual startup during this year’s fourth quarter, the company said.

Once fully commissioned, Rabigh Phase 2 project will be able to produce more than 1.3 million tpy of paraxylene as well as a diverse slate of other petrochemical products, including ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber; thermoplastic olefin; methyl methacrylate; and poly methyl methacrylate, Petro Rabigh said.

With the addition of Rabigh 2, the complex will be equipped to produce 15 million tpy of refined petroleum products and 5 million tpy of petrochemicals.

Petro Rabigh also is planning to begin a series of projects at the complex later this year.

In October 2015, the company invited potential contractors to submit bids for engineering, procurement, and construction of three proposed units at the complex: a polyol production unit, a naphtha processing unit, and a sulfur recovery unit.

Pending approvals and selection of contractors, Petro Rabigh said it expects to begin work on the projects during this year’s second half.

Contact Robert Brelsford at

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