The Saudi Butanol Company (Sabuco) joint venture has begun commercial operations at the Middle East’s first and the world’s largest butanol plant. The SR1.2bn ($293.3mn) plant was built at Jubail on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast (see map, p2), adding to an increasingly sophisticated portfolio of chemicals being produced by the kingdom as it pursues economic diversity.

The plant has capacity to produce 330,000 tons/year of n-butanol and 11,000 t/y of iso-butanol from propylene...