Oil and Gas

Exxon says still in talks on Qatar petchem plant

DOHA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil XOM.N is still in talks with state-run Qatar Petroleum (QP) to build a petrochemical cracker, a senior Exxon executive said on Tuesday.

The slump in demand for petrochemicals as global economic activity slows has raised doubts about plans for petrochemical expansion. The Middle East has a slew of projects under contruction and planning as the world’s top oil exporters look to develop their economies.

Exxon and QP have been talking about the plant for four years after signing an initial deal in 2005. A final deal was expected in 2006, but has yet to be struck.

“It’s still under discussion,” said Alex Dodds, Exxon’s Qatar country manager, when asked about the project.

The plant, to be built in the industrial city of Ras Laffan, was estimated in 2006 to cost around $3 billion and was slated to start up in 2012. It would produce around 1.6 million tonnes per year of ethylene products. (Reporting by Luke Pachymuthu; writing by Simon Webb; editing by James Jukwey)