Jubail, Saudi Arabia

Sadara: world's largest chemicals manufacturing facility built in a single phase

The world’s largest chemicals manufacturing facility built in a single phase, Sadara Chemical Co., is in the home stretch toward the production of its first products in 2015. Reaching the finish line on time is crucial to the project’s overall success, and it will require the commitment of manpower and resources from every contracting company currently working on the project.

That was the message conveyed by Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih and Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew N. Liveris at the Sadara CEO Summit held in Jubail on Sept. 16. It was also a celebration of achievements, including news that the Sadara project is 70 percent completed. The next crucial stage is planning for future challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

With more than 40 CEOs gathered from some of the top global engineering and construction companies, Al-Falih, Liveris, and other company officials speaking at the event agreed it was clear the Sadara project was well on the way to delivering on its promise of being a game-changer for the Saudi economy.

Launched in November 2011 and scheduled to become operational in 2015, Sadara will be a big part of Saudi Aramco’s strategy to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, creating business opportunities for Saudi entrepreneurs and jobs for thousands of talented Saudis.

In a league of its own

“Sadara is probably the planet’s most complex engineering undertaking — not just now, but at any time,” Al-Falih said. “Whether it’s scale, complexity, advanced technology or economic and commercial impact, it is in a league of its own.”

Al-Falih said that the project has come a long way from last year. Last year at this time, Sadara was at 30 percent completion. This year, it is above 70 percent complete. “The next 30 percent is what people will remember: how we finish, when we finish, and what the result is of the facilities we finish.”

Al-Falih urged contractors to redouble their efforts and work together as a team to ensure that Sadara remains on schedule. “What we do want is to bring Sadara to life in the best, most effective and safest manner possible, and the key to that is teamwork,” Al-Falih said.

“We are right now rounding the corner and entering the home stretch, and while our objective is closer than it was, our steps forward are even more critical, requiring greater determination and a higher level of cooperation among all our partners,” Al-Falih said. “If we can achieve that, we will establish an industrial landmark that will contribute to prosperity for generations to come, and put your companies’ names and our names in the history books.”

Once built, Sadara will have the capacity to produce 3 million tons per year of high quality chemical products such as polyethylene, propylene oxide, elastomers, glycol ethers, amines, isocyanates and polyether polyols, many of which have never previously been produced in the Kingdom. The creation of Sadara will not only create hundreds of jobs for Saudis at the plant itself, but it will also create an environment where Saudi entrepreneurs can establish manufacturing companies using those chemical products to make everything from paints and sealants to insulation and auto parts and even toothpaste.

Even at 70 percent of completion, Sadara is a marvel.

By completion, more than 160,000 tons of steel will have been be used in its construction, enough to build two Golden Gate bridges.

Also by completion,1 million cubic feet of concrete will have been poured, enough to build the equivalent of three King Fahd causeways to Bahrain.

2,500 kilometers of pipe have been laid, enough to stretch from Jubail and Jiddah, twice.

All of this has been done with a keen eye toward Saudi Aramco’s corporate value of Safety. As of Sept. 16, a recorded 228,968,755 man hours had been conducted without a reportable injury.

“The world is watching us,” said Liveris. “Customers around the world are watching; they have already signed letters of intent matching more than 100 percent of planned capacity.”

“Our industry is watching as we construct the most incredible industrial complex of our time,” Liveris said. “They know about Saudi Aramco’s incredible reputation, and they know about Dow’s. They believe that if anyone can pull this off, we can.

“Once in a career, once in a lifetime, you have the opportunity to do something truly special,” Liveris said. “I will always remember that I was involved in this special something — that we, together, built Sadara into a force for human progress.”

Saudi Arabia has unique advantages for entering the chemicals business, said Warren W. Wilder, vice president of Chemicals. And Saudi Aramco and Dow are uniquely capable of bringing a project as large as Sadara up and running.

“There’s nothing that stops Saudi Aramco from being successful,” Wilder said. “We have the hydrocarbon resources; we have the capital; we have the operational know-how. Now, it’s just a matter of getting after it.”

Joseph Brewer, the chief program officer for Sadara Chemical, told the audience, “Last year, we were on the verge, it’s like we saw a very large mountain in front of us, but in the past 12 months, as Khalid said, we have accomplished more than 50 percent of the back-end construction, and we should be proud of that.

“But now is not the time to declare victory,” Brewer added. “It’s the time to focus even more and deliver on our commitments.”