Uzbekistan creates free economic zone to host gas chemical complex
Uzbekistan's cabinet of ministers has authorised the creation of the Karakul free economic zone (FEZ) in the Bukhara region, where a gas chemical complex is under construction, the government said on July 13.
The complex, which uses methanol-to-olefin technology to produce up to 730,000 metric tons/year of polymer products annually from 1.3bn m3 of methane. This includes polyethylene terephthalate and polypropylene, plus ethylene vinyl acetate and low density polyethylene, which are new to the Uzbek market. The government said it was one of the few plants of its kind in the world to produce such products from methane.
The complex will form the core of an industrial cluster at the Karakul FEZ, where the government will provide various tax, financial and regulatory benefits to spur investment. Several other large producers of polymer-based products have expressed interest in moving to the zone, the government said, including carpet manufacturers SAG and UrGaz, pipemaker Vero Group and textile producer Mergantex.
Uzbekistan is looking to expand the deep processing of natural gas in order to add value to the resource and diversify its economy. Another downstream gas project that recently came on stream is a gas-to-liquids plant in the Qashqadaryo region. It started production of synthetic oil in late June.
An interview with the operator of the GTL facility can be found here.