Total continues olefin expansion with Algerian $1.4bn deal

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Photo by Tota SA View from the top of Total olefins, Antwerp, Belgium

As part of the comprehensive partnership announced in 2017, French energy giant Total SA has signed an agreement with Sonatrach to launch the engineering studies for a petrochemical project in Arzew, in western Algeria.

The agreement, signed 11 May, includes a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit and a polypropylene production unit with an output capacity of 550,000 tonnes per year.

The project represents an investment of around $1.4bn (€1.17bn) and the ownership structure of 51/49 between Sonatrach and Total respectively.

The FEED project is set to start this summer, subject to approval by the relevant Algerian regulatory authorities.

The facility will convert propane, produced in large quantities locally, into polypropylene, a plastic for which demand is growing strongly, mainly to supply local and Mediterranean demand.  Total will be responsible for the commercialisation of the rest of the production in Europe.

“This project in Algeria illustrates our petrochemical growth strategy, which consists of expanding our activities from competitively advantaged feedstock, especially derived from gas, to take advantage of the growing global plastics demand,” commented Patrick Pouyanné, CEO Total.

The polypropylene project complements Total’s other projects announced recently in the US and the Middle East, which are primarily focused on polyethylene.

On 10 April, the French company signed a $5bn memorandum of understanding with Saudi Aramco to build a world-scale petrochemical complex in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

The complex will be integrated downstream of the SATORP refinery, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco (62.5%) and Total (37.5%) in Jubail.

Located next to the SATORP refinery, the complex will comprise a world-size mixed-feed steam cracker with a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per year of ethylene and related high-added-value petrochemical units.

In addition to that, in February, Total, Borealis AG, and NOVA Chemicals Corp. agreed to form a joint venture in petrochemicals on the US Gulf Coast.

The companies have signed definitive agreements under which Total will own 50% of the venture and Novealis Holdings LLC, a joint venture between Borealis and NOVA Chemicals, will own the remaining 50%.

The joint venture will include the new $1.7bn ethane steam cracker, with a capacity of 1 million tonnes a year, which is currently being built alongside Total’s Port Arthur refinery and Total/BASF’s existing steam cracker.

The project, which is scheduled to start up in 2020, will further include Total’s existing polyethylene 400 ktpa facility in Bayport, Texas, as well as a new a new 625 ktpa polyethylene unit using the Borealis Borstar technology at Total’s Bayport, Texas, site.

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