JUBAIL, Saudi Arabia—ExxonMobil Corp. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. are extending their Al-Jubail Petrochemical Co. (Kemya) joint venture into the rubber industry.
Kemya will expand its facility in Jubail, nearly doubling both its size and employment with a $3.4 billion investment. The project will have the capacity to produce up to 400,000 metric tons per year of rubber—including halobutyl, styrene butadiene, polybutadiene and EPDM—thermoplastic specialty polymers and carbon black to serve several local markets, the Middle East and Asia.
The project will create about 600 jobs once fully operational.
“It's a good fit for both of us,” said John Verity, senior vice president of polymers at ExxonMobil Chemical. “For Sabic, it gave them the opportunity to build and champion a first-rate rubber industry in Saudi Arabia, supporting job creation, developing downstream industries and help diversify the national economy.
“From an ExxonMobil perspective, it gave us some growth opportunities for some of the existing products that we're in that we could bring to the joint venture. But it also provides us access to the Middle East where there is quite a lot of growth for these kinds of products and fabricated products from elastomers.”
Verity said the facility is in the process of being complete and will go through a rolling startup throughout 2016 with the facility expected to be fully commercialized by the second quarter.
The carbon black unit started production in December. Verity said the other units are in the process of being completed. Once that phase is finished, the facility will undergo an extensive product testing phase to gain the necessary approvals to validate their products, gain customer approvals and finally begin production of commercial volumes.