AquaChemie is going upstream and downstream at its facility in Jebel Ali. Image Credit: Source: AquaChemie

Dubai: First came the petrochemical storage facilities. Then followed the building of dedicated terminal for the shipping of these specialty chemicals.

Now, AquaChemie is thinking of getting more out of its base in Jebel Ali. “For 2025, company has already initiated a project to build a processing and blending facility at the (Jebel Ali) terminal to expand the company’s products and services portfolio,” said Anand Kumar, Managing Director.

“Several factors drive petrochemical demand, including the expansion of end-user markets; the difficulty in finding alternatives to petrochemicals for many applications; and the expected surge in per capita demand in developing countries. The Middle East produces approximately 35-40 per cent of the world's petrochemicals, and regional petrochemical demand is expected to increase from 53 million tons/year in 2020 to 61 million tons/year in 2026.”

These numbers have done their part in AquaChemie’s Dh184 million terminal in Jebel Ali, which was commissioned today (February 2). The dedicated chemical berth at Jebel Ali port is designed to dock all sizes of chemical vessels.

“Water depth alongside the berth is 11 meters, which can accommodate a vessel deadweight up to DWT 40,000 tons,” said Kumar. “The water depth in the fairway/approach channel is 17 meters, which accelerates the berthing operation.”

Leading up to the terminal

AquaChemie, which launched in 2008, had its initial focus solely on distributing specialty and industrial chemicals for the GCC’s oil and gas sector. Later, it built two specialty chemical plants and partnered Japan’s Kurita on a JV for water and process treatment specialty chemicals.

“To expand the business into larger volumes, AquaChemie thought of creating this new terminal. Jebel Ali was chosen because it is strategically located near the center of a trade network that connects one-third of the world.”

In November 2020, the ground-breaking was done. (Mott Mac Donald designed and engineered the $50 million project.)

Jebel Ali Port, incidentally, has a dedicated berth for chemical marine vessels.

The AquaChemie terminal covers 20,000 square metres and located some 500 metres from the Chemical Berth 4 in Jebel Ali Port. The new facility is linked by five SS pig-gable jetty pipelines, making for one of the more ‘versatile’ bulk liquid terminals in the GCC.

With total storage volume of over 34,000 cubic metres, the 26 large tanks in the tank-farm can handle over 100 UN Class 3 and 8 chemicals. The terminal has three tanker truck loading bays for top and bottom loading of tankers and ISO tanks, five semi-automatic drumming lines, a warehousing facility with over 6,300 drums, a dedicated ISO tank storage area, and a weigh bridge at the truck entry point.

“Thanks to strong demand for petrochemicals in the region, AquaChemie terminal’s order book is getting full - well before the arrival of first bulk marine vessel,” said Kumar.