Sahara Petrochemicals CA-EDC Project, Saudi Arabia

Sahara Petrochemicals will construct a new caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and ethylene dichloride (EDC) complex in the Jubail Industrial City of Saudi Arabia. The decision to build the complex was finalised in May 2011. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2012.

Construction of the alkali complex is estimated to cost SAR2.8bn ($750m). The plant will have a production capacity of 300,000t of EDC and 250,000t of concentrated caustic soda per year. Caustic soda is a strong chemical base used in many industries such as textiles, detergents, pulp and paper, drinking water and drain cleaner. The sodium hydroxide from the complex will be mainly used for refining of bauxite to produce alumina.

EDC is a chlorinated hydrocarbon. It is used for manufacturing vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), which is the key raw material for producing polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

The CA-EDC complex will initially employ about 200 people and gradually increase the workforce.


The project is being undertaken as a 50:50 joint venture between Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden) and Sahara Petrochemicals.

"Uhde will supply its electrolysis technology for the production of caustic soda."

Sahara and Ma'aden have formed a new joint venture (JV) company called Arabian Chlorovinyl Company. The JV will construct, own and operate the industrial complex.

In May 2011, Sahara and Ma'aden signed agreements to supply the entire concentrated caustic soda produced from the complex to the alumina refinery of Ma'aden in Ras Alzour. The EDC output from the complex will be sold across Saudi Arabia and also exported internationally.


In November 2010, Sahara Petrochemicals obtained an SAR900m ($240m) loan from the state-run Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) towards the project completion. The remaining project cost is expected to be funded through secured loans from commercial banks.


The caustic chlorine unit of the complex will require 370,000t of sodium chloride (salt) as feedstock per year. The feedstock will be procured from local suppliers. The ethylene feedstock for the EDC plant will be supplied by Saudi Ethylene and Polyethylene Company (SEPC), which is owned 75% by Tasnee and Sahara Olefins Company.

"The CA-EDC complex will initially employ about 200 people."

The location of the complex in the Jubail Industrial City also allows delivery of ethylene to the plant via pipeline from the Tasnee Ethane Cracker. The chlorine for the EDC unit will be sourced from the caustic chlorine unit.


Uhde, Germany will provide the necessary process technologies for the CA-EDC complex as part of an agreement signed with Saudi Petrochemicals in June 2007. The technology license agreement was finalised in May 2010.

Uhde will supply its electrolysis technology for the production of caustic soda. The company will also license its proprietary technology system for processing chlorine into ethylene dichloride.

Process technology

The caustic soda is manufactured from brine using Uhde's membrane electrolysis technology. It is the key feedstock used in the refinement of bauxite to produce alumina. The electrolysis process also produces chlorine which is used in the EDC manufacturing unit. Vinnolit-Uhde boiling reactor technology is expected to be employed to produce EDC using ethylene and chlorine.


In 2007, Sahara Petrochemicals contracted Jacobs DCSA Saudi Arabia for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) works for the project. Jacobs will also provide the project management contractor (PMC) services. CMAI Middle East conducted the feasibility study of the project.

Engineering, procurement and construction

In December 2009, Sahara Petrochemicals contracted Daelim for carrying out the preliminary works on the project. The early works, including the site preparation and mechanical works, were started in September 2010.

In May 2011, Ma'aden and Sahara awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract of the project to Daelim. The lump sum turnkey contract is valued at $750m. Engineering works are expected to commence in July 2011 and the construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2011. Construction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2012.