Saudi Aramco to pursue petchem jvs despite downturn

25 March 2009 21:51  [Source: ICIS news]

Saudi Aramco plans several joint venturesHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Despite a global recession, Saudi Aramco plans to develop several petrochemical joint ventures, contributing to Saudi Arabia’s goal of creating 1m jobs in five years, an executive for the oil giant said on Wednesday.

“We need to diversify the kingdom’s economy,” said Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, vice president of new business development for the company. He spoke at the 2009 World Petrochemical Conference, held in Houston by Chemical Market Associates Inc (CMAI).

Saudi Arabia is under pressure to create jobs for its growing population, Al-Judaimi said. The kingdom’s strategy is to use its vast crude oil and natural gas reserves as low-cost feedstock for massive petrochemical complexes being developed in cluster cities throughout Arabia.

Already, the company has completed the first phase of Petro Rabigh, which it is developing through a joint venture with Sumitomo Chemical, Al-Judaimi said. The first phase will produce fuels, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and propylene oxide (PO).

The second phase will produce super absorbent polymers (SAP), methyl methacrylate (MMA), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), cumene, phenol and thermoplastic olefin (TPO), Al-Judaimi said. The 11 new units should come on stream in 2014.

The company’s Yanbu joint venture with ConocoPhillips should have an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract awarded by 2010, Al-Judaimi said. Operations should start by 2014.

Saudi Aramco’s Jubail refinery, being developed with Total, should start up in 2013, he said. The company could consider expanding the complex’s refining and petrochemical capacity afterwards.

Ras Tanura, being developed with Dow Chemical, should have an EPC awarded by the end of 2010, Al-Judaimi said. Operations could start in 2015.

Ras Tanura will have 60 units producing 28 commodities and specialty chemicals, he said.

For more on polyethylene, methyl methacrylate, cumene and phenol visit ICIS chemical intelligence

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By: Al Greenwood
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