Aromatics Oman Ltd, Oman


During 2005 Oman Oil Company (OOC), Oman Refinery Company (ORC) and Korea’s LG International, signed an agreement to establish the Sohar Aromatics Complex. The complex is 60% owned by OOC with the remaining 40% split equally between the other two companies. OOC and ORC are wholly owned by the Sultanate of Oman.

Located in Oman’s Sohar Industrial Area, the complex will be operated by the joint venture partners in a company know as Aromatics Oman Ltd (AOL).

The complex is set to produce 814,000tpa of paraxylene (PX) and 210,000tpa of benzene when it becomes operational by the third quarter of 2009. Sales have been estimated at over $750m per year.

Finance

During the second half of 2005 HSBC Bank Middle East announced that it had acted as financial adviser to Aromatics Oman Ltd (AOL) for the financing of a $1.6bn petrochemical complex.

More than $800m came from commercial banks and The Export-Import Bank of Korea. HSBC added that committed financing was achieved less than six months after the project was approved for development. The remainder of the finance has come from capital investment by the three shareholding companies.

Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract

A contract was signed in July 2005 by LG International Corporation and GS Engineering (previously LG Group Engineering and Construction), to provide the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) for the new aromatics complex.

Technology licence package

During May 2005 Axens announced that it had been awarded the technology licence package for the aromatics complex being built in Oman. The technology package known as the ParamaX Technology Suite is comprised of six processes:

  • Naphtha hydrotreating – for purification of the feedstock
  • Aromising – a continuous catalyst regeneration (CCR) reforming for aromatics production from naphtha
  • Morphylene – an aromatics extractive distillation
  • Eluxyl – High purity paraxylene separation from mixed C8 aromatics
  • XyMax – C8 aromatic isomerisation with ethyl benzene dealkylation
  • TransPlus – toluene and C9+ aromatics transalkylation to produce C8 aromatics

The value of the contract was not disclosed.

Engineering for technology licence package

Germany's Uhde will provide the basic engineering for the Morphylene process, while Axens will provide basic engineering for the other ParamaX technologies as well as the integrated package.

Operator training simulator

Axens was selected to provide an operator training simulator (OTS), a process operations simulator (POS) and an LP optimiser programme for the ParamaX aromatics complex.

"It is said that the project is a milestone in the 'strategic development' of Oman's petro-chemical industry."

The OTS will be designed to reproduce different phases of the plant's operation, including start-ups and shutdowns through normal operation and emergency situations.

The POS and LP will allow plant engineers to perform speculative studies and to optimise the operating costs of the ParamaX system. It will also allow for variations in feed characteristics, feed and utility costs, and final product prices.

The Performance Programs group will carry out the project using their extensive knowledge of chemical reaction kinetics and thermodynamics.

A further contract award will mean that RSI Simcon, a fully owned affiliate of Institut Français du Petrole (IFP), will be responsible for providing the operator training simulators.

Heat exchangers

In the final quarter of 2006, Swedish company Alfa Laval announced that it had been awarded a contract to supply heat exchangers for the aromatics complex in Oman.

The contract was awarded by GS Engineering & Construction Corporation. The heat exchangers are expected to be delivered to the site in the Sohar Industrial area during 2008.

Process control

In April 2007 Honeywell announced that it had been awarded a $7.7m project to supply its Experion Process Knowledge System and its Safety Manager technology for the aromatics complex being built by Aromatics Oman Ltd. Honeywell will also provide project management and engineering services on the contract.

Transportation

Oman Shipping Company SAOC (OSC), Oman Trading International and Vitol, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2006 to formulate a business partnership to provide for the transportation requirements of Aromatics Oman.

The MoU includes an agreement between OSC and Vitol to establish a joint venture to own three newly-built tankers for transporting paraxylene and benzene as well as other chemicals including methanol. The tankers are being constructed and will be ready for the plant's opening production in 2009.

"It is said that the facilities being built by Aromatics Oman Ltd (AOL), will be the largest grass roots facility of its kind in the world."

Feedstock

Naphtha feedstock for the facility will be supplied by the Sohar Refinery Company from its new facility, which was completed in April 2006. The aromatics plant is being constructed adjacent to the refinery so that feedstocks can be siphoned off and the complex can operate in an integrated fashion.

Background

It is said that the facilities being built by Aromatics Oman Ltd (AOL), will be the largest grass roots facility of its kind in the world. Paraxylene (PX) is a key raw material in the production of polyester fibres and PET plastic bottles.

Benzene is a feedstock that can be used in a range of downstream applications including styrene and linear-alkylbenzene (LAB) production. It is also said that the project is another milestone in the 'strategic development' of Oman's petrochemical industry and that the plant will play a leading role in the diversification of the Omani economy providing employment and further downstream business opportunities.