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Sadara: the world’s biggest chemical plant is in Saudi Arabia

In the east of the Arabian Desert lies the most complex chemical plant in the world. Its name: Sadara, a great metal oasis, serving as a spearhead in the economic diversification of Saudi Arabia.

In the industrial city of Jubail, in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, Sadara emerged from the sands in 2011, as a massive chemical plant created in a joint venture between the American giant Dow Chemical and Saudi Aramco. With an area three times larger than the principality of Monaco, and a production capacity of 3 million tons per year, the new chemical plant is the largest in the world.

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With 26 production units, and a budget of $20 billion, Sadara strives to place itself at the forefront of the Kingdom’s economic transformation. Its name – translating to “forefront” in Arabic – illustrates the ambition of the new industrial center. As a reflection of this goal, the complex is one of the most advanced in the world from a technical point of view. It will also be the first in the region to refine naphtha and to produce certain types of plastics.

A Saudi Aramco employee in the Sadara complex © Saudi Aramco

A Saudi Aramco employee in the Sadara complex © Saudi Aramco

For Saudi Arabia, being at the forefront means, above all, anticipating the post-oil world – a key objective for the kingdom in the framework of the Vision 2030 plan. This is in addition to other goals, such as infrastructure modernization, resource diversification, as well as opening the country to foreign investment.

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Total, Dow Chemical, Veolia on the field

Dow Chemical, which is already heavily invested in the complex, wants to double down its investment. In last May, the American company announced their plan to build a polymer plant for coatings and water treatment applications. A second project surrounding the production of performance-grade silicone is already in the pipes for the international company.

The French group Total has also created a petrochemical refining platform in the middle of the Sadara complex, through its joint venture with Saudi Aramco, Satorp. With 20,000 kms of overhead pipeline, and a production capacity of more than a million gross tons for petrochemical products, this is the most significant site of the petro group in the region.

Veolia is also among the occupiers. The French group installed a desalination factory in 2013. The Belgian company Solvay has constructed a hydrogen peroxide mega-factory with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tons. At the end, all this proves that the Saudi land is interesting for numerous foreign industrial groups.

Published on 27 March 2018

#Renewable energy