Saudi Aramco plans move into global aromatics market - executive

13 November 2012 10:39  [Source: ICIS news]

Saudi AramcoBERLIN (ICIS)--Saudi Aramco, the national oil and natural gas company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is looking to expand into the worldwide aromatics market in the coming years, the firm's global business manager for aromatics said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the 11th European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference, Ted Randall said the key drivers behind this were motive, opportunity and means.

While 30% of global oil supply comes from the Middle East, gasoline currently moves in the opposite direction, with the region importing approximately 245,000 bbl/day.

Randall explained that with a mandate to improve the purity of gasoline via BTX (benzene, toluene, xylene) extraction, this provides Saudi Aramco with the motive to delve into the market.

The company will primarily be focused on paraxylene (PX), Randall said, citing growth rates of 2m tonnes per annum, largely from Asia. The Middle East currently supplies 60% of the global PX demand, and Saudi Aramco will be looking to grow its annual PX capacity to 4m tonnes by 2018.

Similarly, the company sees opportunity in the global benzene market, which is currently struggling with structural tightness, and expects to have a capacity of 1m tonnes by 2018.

Randall said that it was more economical to export benzene from the east coast of Saudi Arabia up through the Suez canal and into the Mediterranean than it was to ship it around the peninsula to the west coast of the country for derivative production, owing to pirates operating in the Horn of Africa region and high freight costs.

The means for this ramped up aromatics output comes from strategic location and feedstock reliability, Randall explained. Currently, Saudi Aramco produces 3.3bn barrels of crude oil each year, and CEO Khalid Al-Falih has announced intentions to grow the company’s refining capacity to 8m bbl/day, almost doubling current output levels.

The 11th European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference, organised by ICIS and International eChem, is taking place in Berlin on 13-14 November 2012.

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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