Qatar’s energy minister and CEO of QatarEnergy, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, and the CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Bruce Chinn, signed a $6 million deal to build a gas-to-plastics plant including the biggest ethane cracker in the Middle East, converting natural gas into polyethylene and other plastics.
The Ras Laffan Petrochemicals Complex, which will produce 2.1 million tons of ethylene a year along with 1.7 million tons of polyethylene derivatives, will come on stream in 2026.
The complex will have “lower waste and greenhouse gas emissions” than similar facilities around the world, said Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister and the CEO of QatarEnergy.
QatarEnergy has a 70 percent equity share in the joint venture with Texas-based Chevron Phillips taking the other 30 percent.
“This marks QatarEnergy’s largest investment ever in Qatar’s petrochemicals sector and the first direct investment in 12 years,” Al-Kaabi said at a signing ceremony in Doha on 8th January.
The Qatari minister added that the investment will further reinforce Qatar’s position as a major global player in the upstream, LNG, and downstream sectors. Overall, Qatar’s petrochemical production capacity will rise to almost 14 million tons a year.
Modern life is hard to imagine without ethylene derivatives. The technology using gas to produce both ethylene and polyethylene, while high-tech, is fairly straightforward. Extreme heat breaks the molecular bonds, causing the atoms to rearrange themselves. Ethane’s two carbon atoms form a double bond with one another, resulting in a new molecule: ethylene. If you put ethylene molecules together, you get polyethylene, which is the plastic found in everything from milk containers to medical devices.
Qatar has large reserves of natural gas including the North Field, which contains the world’s biggest deposits and stretches under the Gulf sea into Iranian territory.