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PETROCHEMICAL MARKETS: "Rapid" refinery and integrated petrochemical complex starting up in Malaysia / Major project by Petronas and Saudi Aramco

The large Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development Project ("Rapid") refinery project at the southernmost tip of Malaysia is starting up, according to reports emerging from the Asian country. In November 2018, the first oil tankers of JV partner Saudi Aramco (Dhahran / Saudi Arabia; www.saudiaramco.com) were unloaded, and the systems are now undergoing tests. Production is to be fully ramped up in the spring. The Rapid project was launched by Petronas (Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia; www.petronas.com) in 2012. Aramco became a partner to the project in 2017 see Plasteurope.com of 08.03.2017.

PIEs Polyglobe database (www.polyglobe.net) shows that downstream of the 300,000 bpd refinery, a cracker for 1.3m t/y of ethylene and 550,000 t/y of propylene will be coming onstream. An additional 400,000 t/y of propylene will come directly from the refinery's fluid catalytic cracker (FCC).

Two PP production plants ("Spheripol" and "Spherizone") are coming onstream, each with a capacity of 450,000 t/y. A total of 400,000 t/y of multi-modal HDPE and 350,000 t/y of LLDPE (metallocene C6, proprietary) can also be produced. Polyolefins production is rounded off with a swing plant for HDPE/LLDPE based on "Innovene G" technology, with a capacity of 350,000 t/y.

The new volumes are bound to have a noticeable effect first and foremost on the Asian markets having either a direct impact through exports or being felt indirectly through the discontinuation of imports into Malaysia. Suppliers in the Arab region, for example, could be forced to find other customers in the short and medium term. With the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, North American materials could also unexpectedly float freely if China were to take the logical step of getting supplies from Malaysia.

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