22 November 2012 16:27 [Source: ICB]
Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's national oil and natural gas company, is looking to expand into the worldwide aromatics market in the coming years, according to the company's global business manager for aromatics, Ted Randall.
Saudi Aramco's Manifa oil field feeds the company's refining capacity
While 30% of global oil supply comes from the Middle East, gasoline currently moves in the opposite direction, with the region importing 245,000bbl/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.
It will primarily focus on paraxylene (PX), Randall said, citing growth rates of 2m tonnes/year, largely in Asia. The Middle East currently supplies 60% of the global PX demand, and Saudi Aramco will be looking to grow its PX capacity to 4m tonnes/year by 2018.
Similarly, the company sees opportunity in the benzene market, which is struggling with structural tightness. It expects to have 1m tonnes/year of capacity 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.
The means for this ramped-up aromatics output comes from a strategic location with reliable feedstock, Randall explained.
Saudi Aramco produces 3.3bn bbl of crude oil each year. It has announced intentions to grow its refining capacity to 8m bbl/day.
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