Saudi Aramco, China’s Norinco start building Panjin petrochemical complex in Q2

Nurluqman Suratman


SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Energy giant Saudi Aramco and its Chinese partners will start construction of a refinery and petrochemical complex in China’s northeastern Liaoning province in the second quarter, with full operations expected in 2026.

The new $10bn complex in Panjin will have a 300,000 bbl/day refinery integrated with a petrochemical plant that will produce 1.65m tonnes/year of ethylene and 2m tonnes of paraxylene (PX), Saudi Aramco said on 26 March.

Developing the complex is Huajin Aramco Petrochemical Co (HAPCO) – a joint venture between Aramco (30%), state-owned Chinese military equipment producer Norinco Group (51%) and property developer Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group (19%).

Construction will begin once all required regulatory approvals have been secured, according to Aramco, which is expected to supply up to 210,000 bbl/day of crude oil feedstock to the complex.

A final investment decision (FID) to proceed with the project was made in March last year.

The Panjin project was first announced by Aramco in February 2019 during the Beijing visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the start-up date initially set in 2024.

“It is a symbolic project for Panjin as it seeks to accelerate the development of an important national petrochemical and fine chemical industry base,” Panjin Xincheng chairman Jia Fei said.

During a keynote speech at the China Development Forum on 26 March, Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser emphasized the company’s role in China’s long term energy security which includes supplying it with “new lower carbon products, chemicals, and advanced materials”.

The planned Panjin complex will be Aramco’s second refinery-petrochemical mega-complex in China.

Its first petrochemical complex in the country is in joint venture with ExxonMobil and Fujian Petrochemical Co via Fujian Refining and Petrochemical Co.

The complex in the southeastern Fujian province is currently home to a 1.1m tonne/year stream cracker, a 900,000 tonne/year PE unit, a 670,000 tonne/year PP unit as well as an aromatics complex.

In December 2022, Saudi Aramco had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China’s Shandong Energy Group to collaborate on an “integrated refining and petrochemical opportunities” in the eastern region.

The MoU with the Chinese state-owned coal-mining company includes a potential crude oil supply and chemicals products offtake agreements.

A framework agreement between Saudi Aramco and Chinese chemicals major Sinopec was also signed, for a Phase II refining and petrochemical complex in Gulei in Fujian.

The project will have 320,000 bbl/day of refining capacity and 1.5m tonnes/year of ethylene, according to a statement by Sinopec. This facility is expected to come on stream in late 2025.

Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman

Thumbnail photo: Aramco, Norinco Group, Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group and Liaoning province officials at the signing of the agreement to commence construction of the Panjin project.

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