Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara), a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and The Dow Chemical Company, on Monday celebrated the commissioning of the last of its 26 plants — an isocyanates section currently producing crude quantities of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and other specialty chemicals.
The landmark commissioning milestone was celebrated at the Sadara complex in Jubail Industrial City II in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and Saudi Aramco Chairman, HE Khalid A. Al-Falih; Dow chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris; and Ahmad A. Al Sa’adi, chairman of Sadara and Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president of Technical Services.
A series of firsts
A first for the Gulf region, the TDI section is mainly used in the production of flexible polyurethane foam for furniture, mattresses, cushioning, and car seats. TDI also has a variety of industrial uses, such as coatings, adhesives, sealants, specialty foams, and other products.
The TDI section consists of three integrated units producing dinitrotoluene (DNT), toluene diamine (TDA), and TDI. The DNT and TDA units started operations in April, and the TDI unit began crude production this week.
The isocyanates envelope also includes an unprecedented integrated facility producing polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (PMDI). The PMDI plant began producing commercial quantities in early June.
Additionally, Sadara is producing another important polyurethane precursor — polyether polyols. Sadara’s Polyols Plant came onstream in late July.
The world’s largest integrated chemicals complex ever built in a single phase and established by the largest foreign direct investment in Saudi petrochemicals industry, Sadara has been bringing its chemical plants onstream in a carefully planned sequence and will produce more than 3 million tons of high-value performance plastics and specialty chemical products annually. Sadara’s mixed feed cracker, the heart of Sadara’s operations, started up in August 2016, cracking ethane gas and naphtha liquid feedstock to produce chemicals for the site’s other facilities. Sadara’s four polyethylene production units came online between late 2015 and early 2017.
Thirty-two polyethylene products have been qualified todate, serving more than 600 customers in 70 countries. An additional four new polyethylene products will be added to Sadara’s capabilities by the end of the year.Sadara’s specialty chemicals portfolio includes facilities that manufacture propylene oxide, propylene glycol, ethylene oxide, glycol ethers, amines, isocyanates and polyether polyols.
Sadara is a flagship chemicals project that significantly advances our ability to derive the maximum value from every hydrocarbon molecule, and to participate more broadly across the petroleum value chain
Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser
An economic catalyst
“Sadara’s commissioning positions the company to fully deliver its promise as a major catalyst for Saudi Arabia’s economic future — a promise that will be felt in human terms,” said Al-Falih. “Sadara’s slate of high-value chemicals, including many firsts for the Kingdom and the region, will create the quality performance, value-added and plastics products that support a higher living standard around the world, especially in the emerging Asia Pacific and Middle Eastern markets that will drive two-thirds of global petrochemical demand over the next decade.
“In addition to transforming the Kingdom from a consumer and importer to a global exporter, Sadara will create new value chains and technologies that will attract foreign and domestic investment, spurring new sectors and entrepreneurial business, and creating thousands of manufacturing jobs for Saudis,” he added. “In this way, Sadara is perfectly aligned with the Kingdom’s national transformation goals as expressed in Saudi Vision 2030. By driving non-oil sector growth, innovation, and better life opportunities, Sadara will deliver progress and prosperity now and for generations to come.”
Liveris called the launch a “pivotal moment for this game-changing joint venture — for Dow, our partners at Saudi Aramco, and for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — delivering market-driven solutions that have never before been manufactured in the Kingdom and supporting the diversification of its economy in line with Saudi Vision 2030. Dow has been a strategic partner in Saudi Arabia for more than four decades and is the Kingdom’s largest foreign investor. Commissioning of Sadara’s final plant marks a pivotal moment in the history of this landmark public and private partnership that advances Dow’s growth strategy and will help transform the Kingdom’s rich resources into solutions for the world through a thriving manufacturing sector.”
A major milestone for Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser called Sadara a major milestone in Saudi Aramco’s strategic intent to become the world’s foremost integrated energy and chemicals company.
“Sadara is a flagship chemicals project that significantly advances our ability to derive the maximum value from every hydrocarbon molecule, and to participate more broadly across the petroleum value chain,” Nasser said.
“The closer integration of Saudi Aramco’s refining networks with chemical production brings greater resilience and robustness to our portfolio. Using raw materials provided by SABIC, SATORP, and Sadara itself, the complex will transform raw materials and feedstocks into high-value products — a position of strength that drives business growth. Our strategy to make chemicals a top-tier global business will have a multiplier effect on jobs, industries and technologies, especially through industrial parks as a base for conversion industries making plastics and plastic products from petrochemicals. As a creator of entirely new products and industries, Sadara is a transformational company that will benefit all stakeholders,” he added.
Al Sa’adi said, “Sadara has come a long way from the shareholder agreement signing six years ago to the official inauguration in November. Yet the commissioning of all our plants is not the finish line, but Sadara’s start in meeting rising demand for high-quality chemicals, plastics, and performance products, especially in emerging markets, and stimulating Saudi Arabia’s industrial growth across the automotive, construction, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods sectors.
”The Sadara chairman added, “The future will be demanding, but our determination and commitment are more than equal to the task. Knowing Sadara’s ‘can do’ attitude, I’m confident that we will exceed the expectations that our shareholders have set for us.”
Serving customers around the world
Strategically located to benefit from competitive feedstocks, Sadara will serve the needs of Dow customers across the Asia Pacific, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.
To date, Sadara has employed more than 4,100 people — the majority of whom are Saudis. Almost 2,000 of these employees have completed intensive, technology-centric, on-the-job training (OJT) programs at various Saudi Aramco and Dow sites in Saudi Arabia and around the world for advanced chemicals production technologies knowledge. The Sadara OJT program is one of the largest and most sophisticated technological training programs ever undertaken by any company in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the PlasChem Park, a world-class industrial park for chemical and conversion industries created by a collaboration between Sadara and the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu’, is expected to attract quality investments valued at SR20 billion, and to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.