Honeywell announces that Farabi Petrochemicals Company will use Honeywell UOP technologies for a new complex in Yanbu to expand its production of biodegradable detergents. The construction of the new complex is expected to be completed in 2020.
As part of the contract, Honeywell UOP will provide catalysts and adsorbents as well as licensing, basic engineering design and other associated services for the new complex. Honeywell UOP technologies include a Unionfining™ hydrotreating unit, a Molex™ unit to produce the linear alkylbenzene (LAB) feedstock necessary for making biodegradable detergents, a Pacol™ unit for dehydrogenation, a DeFine™ unit to improve product purity, and a Detal™ detergent alkylation unit.
“Farabi chose Honeywell UOP technology because it is the most efficient and widely used technology in the world for making detergents,” said John Gugel, vice president and general manager of Honeywell UOP’s Process Technology and Equipment business. “Our technologies will help the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia meet growing domestic and regional demand for petrochemicals and detergents, derive more value from its petroleum resources, and help it gain self-sufficiency in these chemical intermediates.”
When completed, the Yanbu complex will produce more than 120,000 metric tons per year of LAB and 246,000 metric tons per year of normal paraffins, in addition to de-aromatized specialty oils, asphalt, sulfonates, mining chemicals, process oils and lubes. As a feedstock, the complex will use diesel from the Saudi Aramco refinery and kerosene from the Saudi Aramco ExxonMobil refinery in Yanbu.
According to the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), Saudi Arabia had 98.5 million tonnes per year of petrochemicals production capacity in 2016. It is the region’s second-largest industry within the manufacturing sector, creating more than 500,000 direct and indirect jobs and $108 billion worth of products as recently as 2015.
The demand for normal paraffins as the feedstock for LAB continues to increase worldwide. The Molex process provides the most economical route to produce normal paraffins from kerosene and diesel, while also producing a by-product return stream of Jet A-1 quality jet fuel. The process operates in the liquid phase and simulates a moving adsorbent bed in a fixed-bed system using a proprietary multi-port rotary valve.
“The Yanbu facility demonstrates that refining companies in the Kingdom continue to move downstream into petrochemicals, where demand is growing and margins are stronger,” Gugel said. “The location of this new facility also will create more employment and industrial development in Western Saudi Arabia.”
Farabi Petrochemicals Company is a 100 percent Saudi-owned closed joint stock company. It started its operations with its first integrated normal paraffin and LAB complex with Honeywell UOP technology in 2006, and doubled its LAB capacity through an expansion in 2012. Farabi also operates an LAB complex in Jubail, on the East Coast of Saudi Arabia. The company’s new complex in Yanbu will make Farabi one of the largest producers of normal paraffins and LAB in the world.
Honeywell UOP pioneered the manufacture of LAB in the 1960s, helping to eliminate the fouling of waterways from conventional detergents. Today, LAB from UOP processes is the most widely-used component in the production of biodegradable detergents, emulsifiers, dispersants, wetting and foaming agents.
Honeywell has been active in Saudi Arabia since 1963, with the establishment of the Kingdom’s first refinery at Ras Tanura. With a presence in 10 offices throughout the Kingdom, Honeywell is committed to supporting Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts toward economic diversification and localization initiatives.