Aramco and Sinopec Plan Projects in China, Saudi Arabia

20.12.2022 - Aramco and Sinopec have signed two separate agreements to develop petrochemical complexes in their home countries of Saudi Arabia and China.

The first agreement relates to a refinery and petrochemical complex in Gulei, Fujian province, China, with both facilities expected to commence operations by the end of 2025. The greenfield project will include a 320,000 bbl/day refinery and 1.5 million t/y cracker complex.

The second deal, which also includes SABIC as a third signatory, relates to a study on the economic and technical feasibility of building a new petrochemical complex that would be integrated with an existing refinery in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.

“These projects represent an opportunity to contribute to a modern, efficient and integrated downstream sector in both China and Saudi Arabia. They also underpin our long-term commitment to remain a reliable supplier of energy and chemicals to Asia’s largest economy,” said Mohammed Al Qahtani, Aramco senior vice president of downstream.

During the course of this year, Aramco and Sinopec have entered into several agreements that cover multiple areas of potential collaboration in both Saudi Arabia and China.

Separately, Aramco has announced that both itself and partner TotalEnergies have taken a positive final investment decision on their proposed "Amiral" complex that will be built in Jubail on Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast.

The complex will be integrated within the existing Satorp refinery at the site, enabling the conversion of off-gases and naphtha, as well as ethane and natural gasoline supplied by Aramco, into higher value chemicals. Jointly owned by Aramco and TotalEnergies, Satorp has been operational since 2014.

Centered on a mixed-feed steam cracker producing 1.65 million t/y ethylene, Amiral will also include two PE plants, a butadiene extraction unit, as well as other derivative facilities. Construction is due to start during the first quarter of 2023, with commercial operations scheduled for 2027.

About $11 billion will be invested in the project, of which $4 billion will be funded through equity by Aramco (62.5%) and TotalEnergies (37.5%).

Aramco president & CEO Amin Nasser commented: “Our long-standing relationship with TotalEnergies has been further strengthened by this important project, which represents an opportunity for us to showcase the potential for cutting-edge liquids-to-chemicals technologies that support the circular economy. With this collaboration we aim to expand the value chain by producing advanced chemicals more efficiently than ever before, accelerating industrial progress in the Kingdom.”

Eventually, the complex will provide feedstock to other petrochemical and specialty chemical plants located in the Jubail industrial area, supporting the establishment of key manufacturing industries such as carbon fibers, lubes, drilling fluids, detergents, food additives, automotive parts and tires.

US contractor McDermott was awarded a contract in October 2019 for work on the Amiral project, which included a suite of licenses, basic engineering, training, technical services and proprietary equipment.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist