SOCAR and BP petchem project in Turkey to start construction next year

Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR, which is the largest direct foreign investor in Turkey, and UK petroleum giant BP are planning to commence the construction of a US$1.8-billion petrochemical plant in Turkey by the end of 2020, with completion expected by 2023, say the partners.

BP and SOCAR in late 2018 signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) to evaluate the formation of a joint venture to build and operate a world-class petrochemicals complex in Turkey.

“A tender for the design of the complex has been announced and three companies are taking part in it. Results will be announced next month,” SOCAR’s Turkey Enerji Project Director Emil Alkhasly told Reuters.

It has been reported that the facility, to be located in Aliağa a district in İzmir province in Turkey’s Aegean region, will produce 1.25 million tonnes/year of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), 840,000 tonnes/year of paraxylene (PX) and 340,000 tonnes/year of benzene.

Feedstock supplies are expected from the nearby new SOCAR Turkey Aegean Refinery (STAR) refinery and Petkim petrochemicals complex, both owned by SOCAR Turkey.

During the signing ceremony last year, Luis Sierra, CEO for BP’s global aromatics unit said: “If taken forward, this would be the largest integrated PTA, PX and aromatics complex in the Western Hemisphere and BP’s first major new aromatics platform since our Zhuhai site in China opened nearly 20 years ago. The combination of BP’s leading proprietary technology and integration with SOCAR’s new refinery could create an outstanding platform to serve Turkey’s growing polyester packaging and textiles industry. We look forward to drawing on the strengths of both BP and SOCAR to explore the creation of a highly competitive facility.”

The Azerbaijani giant has so far realized around US$14.2 billion out of its planned US$19.5 billion investments in Turkey, to be made by 2020. It began investing in Turkey after it acquired the country’s leading petrochemical company Petkim in 2008 for US$2 billion.

SOCAR Turkey’s investments include Petkim, Turkey’s leading petrochemicals manufacturer; Star Refinery, which began operations in 2018; the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP), which will transport Caspian gas through Turkey and onwards to Europe, and Petlim, the largest container port on Turkey’s Aegean Sea coast.

Turkey and Azerbaijan witnessed last year the inauguration of the largest single-location real sector investment in Turkey, the SOCAR Turkey Aegean Refinery (STAR), in İzmir’s Aliağa district.

The US$6.3-billion-refinery is one of the biggest petroleum and gas operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. To rev up to full capacity soon, the refinery is said to be exporting around US$500 million of petrochemical raw materials per year.

The facility will produce around 4.8 million tonnes of diesel, 1.6 million tonnes of jet fuel, 1.6 million tonnes of naphtha, 480,000 tonnes of reformate, 700,000 tonnes of petroleum coke, 420,000 tonnes of mixed xylene, 320,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and 160,000 tonnes of sulphur at its full capacity.

BP and SOCAR are longstanding partners in a number of major oil and gas production and transportation projects in Turkey, Azerbaijan and the wider region, including the Shah Deniz 2 gas project in Azerbaijan that began production early last year, exporting natural gas to Turkey and beyond.