SAUDI ARABIA: ExxonMobil to join Sabic in making rubber products

Simon Holmes, spokesman for Saudi elastomers industry development at ExxonMobil, said that this is a new area of products and it brings a lot of opportunity for the conversion industry.

"When you bring this production into the Kingdom, you can find uses for it in automotive and construction industries,” he said.

When completed, the facility will produce about 400,000 tons a year (t/y) of carbon black, rubber and thermoplastic specialty polymers.

"The plant will use ExxonMobil technology and the products will be sold on local and international markets.”

"The technical packages under construction are: carbon black, methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), polybutadiene rubber (PBR), halobutyl rubber plant (HRP).

Holmes said: "It is not just a question of serving Saudi Arabia. It is also a question of feeding the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and even some countries in Africa. You can't build a small plant that will only ‘serve the village' in todays' markets, you need a large facility.”

The project will be constructed at the Al-Jubail Petrochemical Company (Kemya) complex in Jubail, which is a 50:50 joint venture of Sabic and ExxonMobil.

The rubber industry is regarded as a manpower-intensive sector and a typical established tire factory will employ as many as 1,500 people on one site.

The tire industry is the largest customer for synthetic rubber and takes about 70 percent of the global off-take.

ExxonMobil has no plans to build any conversion industries in the rubber industry, as that was not in its business model, but Holmes says it was supporting Sabic by opening the High Institute for Elastomer Industries (HIEI) to train Saudi workers to work in the elastomers industry.

Source: Daily "Saudi Gazette", Riyadh; 25 May 2013(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)