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Abu Dhabi plunges deeper into chemicals

With $45 billion investment, national oil firm seeks diversification away from oil and gas

by Alexander H. Tullo
May 14, 2018

A photo of Sultan Al Jaber.
Credit: ADNOC
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

In an effort to diversify the United Arab Emirates economy away from oil and gas extraction, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) plans to invest $45 billion, with partners, in its refining and petrochemical complex in Ruwais. The company is also establishing industrial parks to attract partners in downstream chemicals and manufactured products.

The plan follows an initiative announced last month by Saudi Aramco to spend $60 billion on petrochemical and refining projects in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and India. In both cases, large Middle Eastern oil companies, seeing slowing demand for transportation fuels, want to diversity into petrochemical markets that still have attractive growth prospects.

ADNOC says it wants to make Ruwais “the world’s largest and most advanced integrated refining and petrochemical complex.” It will add a new refinery to the site, upping capacity more than 65%, to 1.5 million barrels per day, by 2025.

In chemicals, the company plans a new mixed-feed ethylene cracker that will triple the site’s petrochemical output to 14.4 million metric tons by 2025.

The new cracker is an amplification of previously announced expansion plans. ADNOC makes petrochemicals through Borouge, its joint venture with the European polyolefins maker Borealis. Last July, Borouge and ADNOC agreed to almost triple the capacity of the complex to 11.4 million metric tons by 2023.

ADNOC is also establishing two industrial parks. Set on 6 km2 of land, the Ruwais Derivatives Park will be integrated with the refining and petrochemicals complex. ADNOC hopes to attract companies that will make downstream chemicals for markets such as construction, oil and gas, and cleaning.

The Ruwais Conversion Park will be dedicated to companies that convert chemicals into products such as packaging, coatings, and automotive composites.

“We are extending an invitation to both existing and new partners to join with us in building a world-leading refining and petrochemicals complex and manufacturing ecosystem here in Ruwais,” says Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of state and the CEO of ADNOC.

ADNOC has already signed on the Spanish firm Cepsa to build a 150,000-metric-ton-per-year plant for the surfactant raw material linear alkylbenzene. The facility will get its benzene supply from ADNOC. The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment controls Cepsa, as it does Borealis and Canada’s Nova Chemicals.


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