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Mohammed I. Al Bibi


Decade To Flex

President, Tasnee Petrochemicals Complex-Al Jubail


Mohammed I. AlBibi is the President of Tasnee Petrochemical Complex in Al Jubail Industrial City. Before joining Tasnee, he was President of Farabi, a petrochemical company in the private sector. Earlier, he had worked for Al Jubail Petrochemical Company (Kemya), a joint venture between SABIC and ExxonMobil for over 18 years.

What can you tell us about Tasnee’s current involvement in the massive petrochemicals boom in progress in the country? Jubail’s industrial development is an amazing story, and its reach is […]

What can you tell us about Tasnee’s current involvement in the massive petrochemicals boom in progress in the country?

Jubail’s industrial development is an amazing story, and its reach is not limited to only one location. The region has played host to some of the largest investments ever seen in the Kingdom. Many people know the name of Sadara Chemical Company, which is a joint venture between the Dow Chemical Company and Saudi Aramco. There is also the Saudi Aramco Total Refinery & Petrochemicals (SATORP), which is another joint venture initiative. If you look at the huge amount of production coming from this area, it has grown by leaps and bounds, to say the least, and Tasnee has contributed to this growth. We started the first plant in Tasnee Petrochemicals Complex in Jubail in 2004, which was under the Saudi Polyolefins Company (SPC). The polypropylene and PDH units started in mid-2004 as a joint venture with LyondellBasell, and things took off from there. From 2004 to 2010, Tasnee has grown by a breathtaking 61%. The first company was SPC and then came the Saudi Ethylene and Polyethylene Company (SEPC). We have set up a world-class operation in terms of capacity, with two polyethylene plants. Tasnee produces around a million tons of ethylene and 285,000 tons of propylene from the same cracker. With regard to downstream products, we produce high- and low-density polyethylene. Our output of each of the two materials is 400,000 tons per annum, and they are at full capacity. SPC now produces 720,000 tons of polypropylene supplied from the SPC. Propane dehydrogenation (PDH) is produced at a capacity of 455,000 tons, with the balance for the propylene coming from the cracker. We have recently ventured into the chemicals sector, and Tasnee, in a joint venture with the Dow Chemical Company, has set up the first acrylic acid complex, which has an annual capacity of 160,000 tons. SAP has a joint venture with Evonik, but it is still in the testing phases. Commercial production was set to commence at end-2Q2014. In terms of future capacity, we will be adding approximately 240,000-250,000 tons of additional capacity. In addition, for the first time, we are producing liquid butyl acrylate at a capacity of 160,000 tons per year. We would like to see this as our contribution to a better industrial outlook for the Jubail area.

What is your strategic approach to joint ventures in terms of staying competitive and introducing new products?

Cristal Global is the brand name for the National Titanium Dioxide Company. In terms of production, it is now the world’s second largest titanium oxide production facility in the world. We recently entered into a joint venture with Toho from Japan, the leading technology supplier for titanium, to produce titanium sponges. Cristal has excellent operational experience, and it has all the required infrastructure needed to produce titanium oxide and its derivatives. It also has the manufacturing know-how and capability. It is trying to capitalize on the energy advantage here. Together with Toho, we can capitalize on both its technology, which is considered the most efficient to produce the sponges, and value-added to production costs.

The petrochemical sector in Saudi Arabia is expected to attract some $150 billion in investment by 2016. What do you do to attract external investment?

Tasnee has both petrochemical know-how and downstream operations. Today, SEPC is growing. One of projects being built at the moment is a high-end, SAR850 million investment. It will be a part of a different line of products. These downstream activities attract foreign investment, and we are looking for as much as we can get. We will always talk to technology providers, and we are always in touch with the technology suppliers for the target industries we would like to move into, and which would create value for the shareholders of both members of the joint venture. We have proven that we can do that.



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