ABB to Provide Distributed Control System for Greenfield Digital-Age SABIC Chemical Plant

November 21, 2019 by Jacob Ramirez

Automation leader ABB has recently announced their involvement with the development of a new greenfield SABIC plant, for which they will provide a comprehensive controls system.

ABB and SABIC are partnering up for the development and automation of a new greenfield pilot plant by SABIC. ABB will provide the plant with their comprehensive ABB Ability System 800xA, a state-of-the-art distributed control system, to the chemical plant, which is also being developed alongside Wison Engineering, a Chinese EPC firm.


Image used courtesy of ABB


SABIC Plans for Innovation

SABIC is a Saudi petrochemical manufacturing company, as well as being the largest publicly traded company in the Middle East. The company’s new pilot plant is intended to test ABB’s automation systems as an emergent solution in their chemical manufacturing operations.

The plant is being developed as a part of SABIC’s Utilities Park and Pilot project in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The project is an effort on SABIC’s part to develop an entirely new utilities park in Jubail, and will be the largest of SABIC’s 21 international technology centers.

SABIC’s other innovation program is known as Home of Innovation, a growth and innovation initiative through which SABIC is partnering with industrial solutions providers such as ABB.


ABB’s Value Proposition

ABB is one of the global leaders in the industrial controls and automation industry, based in Zurich, Switzerland. Their solution for SABIC’s new pilot plant is their ABB Ability System 800xA, a distributed control system that will digitize and automate virtually every aspect of the plant’s operations.

The system will also be used during the construction of the plant, as a Wison Engineering spokesperson noted that the system will allow them to “ensure safe and efficient delivery of this project, with minimized cost, schedule, and risk,” by “providing intelligent data insights.”


ABB Ability System 800xA

As stated earlier in the article, ABB Ability System 800xA is a distributed control system. However, the system will also provide security, automation, predictive analytics, and automatic compliance solutions for the plant.

Kevin Kosisko, Managing Director of Energy Industries at ABB said “SABIC has committed to innovation, sustainability and implementing digitalization technologies” as a part of its 2025 strategy, going on to note that SABIC also aimed to “improve its productivity and commercial capabilities,” through the integration of their solution.


The Ability ABB System 800xA. Image from ABB.


Kosisko also noted that their distributed control and automation system “Will support SABIC’s long-term success by improving engineering efficiencies and enabling optimal asset use and operating performance.”

System 800xA also includes safety instrumented system controls, providing the SABIC pilot plant to automatically meet IEC 61508/61511 compliance regulations through its “robust inspection, testing and validating of all safety instrumented functions” operating under the distributed control system in the plant.


Support from Wison Engineering

This new pilot plant is being developed in partnership with Wison Engineering, the largest privately-owned engineering, procurement, and construction firm in China.

Wison won the contract at a $150M bid, and construction of the greenfield plant is expected to begin in early 2020.