US catalysts manufacturer W R Grace and UAE food supplier Al Dahra Agriculture have signed a joint venture agreement to build the Middle East’s first fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts manufacturing plant at an estimated cost of $200mn. The plant will be built on a 150,000 sq ms site in the Kizad Industrial Zone, some 70km from the city of Abu Dhabi and adjacent to the port of Khalifa. Detailed engineering for the plant is under way and construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter. Start-up is expected in fourth quarter 2015. The plant is intended to serve refineries throughout the Middle East and in Asia.

At a press briefing in Abu Dhabi on 14 May, Grace Chairman and CEO Fred Festa said that regional demand for FCC catalysts is expected to grow substantially in the coming years. The company claims to be the global leader for FCC catalysts and additives and says nearly 40% of transportation fuels worldwide are processed with Grace catalysts. The global FCC catalysts market is estimated at $2.5bn/year, with most manufacturing based in North America and Europe. For Al Dahra the venture represents diversification into a new market. (CONTINUED - 277 WORDS)