21 March 2012 05:01 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nurluqman Suratman
SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Oil giant Saudi Aramco is expected to begin operations at its $13bn (€10bn) refinery project at Jubail in Saudi Arabia by the second quarter of 2013, banking firm HSBC said late on Tuesday.
The Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical (Satorp) project – a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and French oil and petrochemicals major Total – would also produce 700,000 tonnes/year of paraxylene (PX), 140,000 tonnes/year of benzene and 200,000 tonnes/year of polymer-grade propylene after its completion in 2013.
Saudi Aramco has a 62.5% interest in the venture, with 37.5% held by Total.
“This is set to be a sophisticated, full-conversion 400,000 bbl/day plant, geared to meet high, and growing, domestic demand for transport fuels and global demand for middle distillates as well as to monetise heavy oil from the Manifa field,” HSBC said in a research report.
The Jubail refinery venture is also set to be listed on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange as early as the fourth quarter of this year, as part of the firm’s plan to list all new flagship oil refining and chemical projects on the bourse, the bank said.
“This will offer equity investors significant new opportunities to participate in the Saudi downstream story,” it said.
Saudi Aramco has indicated that it will offer the public a 25% stake in the Jubail refinery venture, reducing its interest to the same level as Total's, the bank said.
The company’s next listing will likely be the new joint venture 400,000 bbl/day refinery at Yanbu on the Red Sea coast, according to HSBC.
The project, named Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining (Yasref), is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and China’s state-owned refiner Sinopec, and is expected to start up in the second half of 2014.
Saudi Aramco may also offer the public shares in the Sadara chemical project in Jubail as early as by the end of 2013, HSBC said.
The Sadara project, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and US-based Dow Chemical, is scheduled to start operations in the first quarter of 2015, according to the bank.
“The $20bn plant will be integrated with the Jubail refinery, consistent with Saudi Arabia’s strategy to shift away from gas toward oil-based feedstock for new chemical projects,” it said.
A public listing of Aramco's new 200,000-400,000 bbl/day oil refinery project in Jazan is also likely before its start-up, which is targeted for the first quarter of 2017, the bank added.
Meanwhile, the Rabigh II expansion project at Petro Rabigh’s refinery in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, is expected to be fully operational by 2016 at the earliest, according to HSBC.
Petro Rabigh is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo, each with a 37.5% stake. The remaining 25% is traded on the Tadawul stock exchange.
“Like Sadara, Rabigh II is also targeted for a 2015 start-up. However, the partners have not yet reached a final investment decision,” HSBC said.
“In February 2012, Sumitomo indicated that it was still assessing the feasibility of the project. However, Aramco has recently stated that it remains fully committed to the expansion,” it added.
Saudi Aramco could not be immediately contacted for comment.
($1 = €0.76)
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