Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem) has announced the initial startup of its polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) plant in Jubail Industrial City.

The new facility started operating on Monday after the company completed tests on plant equipment to ensure its efficiency, production capacity and product quality.

Operated by Sipchem Chemical Company, an affiliate of Sipchem, the PBT plant will produce 63,000 metric tons of thermal, highly specialized polymer that is used to produce materials for the automotive, IT, electrical and electronics industries, as well as the manufacturing of polymers and engineering plastics.

The main feedstock for PBT production is butanediol, an organic compound which is produced by the International Diol Company, another Sipchem affiliate.

Ahmad A. Al-Ohali, chairman of Sipchem Chemical Company, said that the PBT plant is an important part of its expansion and growth program, which aims to produce specialized products through the implementation of integrated downstream projects using the company's existing products. The plant is considered the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Al-Ohali added that the products from polymers, which are key materials for advanced and downstream industries, will pave the way for several areas of investment in those industries in Saudi Arabia.

Sipchem has a 95 percent stake in Sipchem Chemical Company, with the remaining interest owned by Sipchem Marketing Company.

The total cost of the project is approximately 600 million Saudi Riyals ($160 million).