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Pakistan to build first naphtha cracker complex

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Pakistan is planning to set up its first petrochemical complex, which would include a naphtha cracker, in the next five to six years with an investment of US$6 – US$8 billion, according to the country’s chemical industry group.

“Work may start as soon as possible. Currently, we are trying to pull together a feasibility report. It [the complex] may take five-six years to complete,” Iqbal Kidwai, secretary general of the Pakistan Chemical Manufacturers’ Association (PCMA), told ICIS. “The government will provide the funding, starting with the seed-money. It can also adopt the mode of public-private partnership, depending on the interest,” he added.

PCMA will prepare the feasibility study of the complex, and also work on request for proposals (RFPs), which should have a business plan with complete specifications and timetable for the NCC project. Pakistan’s Planning Commission will then advertise the RFPs in newspapers. In an exclusive meeting between PCMA and Pakistan’s federal government planning minister Ahsan Iqbal held on 18 January 2017, “a historical decision of putting in place [a] naphtha cracker complex was taken”, according to the minutes of the meeting obtained by ICIS. “The minister instructed his team to announce this approval in principle affirming that [the] government was determined to establish naphtha cracker complex (NCC), acknowledging it as a strategic need,” it stated.

Pakistan, with a population of about 200 million people, does not have any petrochemical complex, and relies mostly on imports to meet domestic needs for chemicals. However, with the start of work on projects falling under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the south Asian country’s hunger for petrochemicals is set to rise. The CPEC involves the construction of geographical linkages to improve road, rail and air transportation systems between China and Pakistan and already projects worth more than US$50 billion have been identified by the two countries.

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