Aramco OKs Korean Crude-to-Chemicals Complex

22.11.2022 - Saudi Aramco has announced that its South Korean affiliate S-Oil will proceed with a refinery-petrochemical project at Ulsan. The complex will represent the first commercialization of Aramco and Lummus Technology’s thermal crude-to-chemicals technology (TC2C) when it starts up in 2026.

The Shaheen project will cost $7 billion – Aramco’s biggest investment ever in South Korea – and the facility will be one of the world’s largest refinery-integrated petrochemical steam crackers, the Saudi energy giant said.  

S-Oil has previously spent $4 billion on the first phase of Shaheen, which completed in 2018. The South Korean company postponed in early 2021 the next phase of Shaheen because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It had already completed an investment feasibility study on the project.

Work on the complex, which will produce up to 3.2 million t/y of petrochemicals and plastics, is now scheduled to start next year. The steam cracker is expected to use mixed feedstocks, processing naphtha and offgas from crude processing into ethylene, along with propylene, butadiene and other basic chemicals, as well as PE.

Aramco said the cracker will outperform naphtha-based crackers in terms of overall efficiency and performance. The group added that S-Oil’s chemical yield based on volume could almost double to 25% upon completion of the project, complementing Aramco’s strategy to expand its liquids-to-chemicals capacity to up to 4 million barrels per day.

“The global petrochemical landscape is rapidly evolving with demand growth anticipated to accelerate, driven in part by rising consumption from Asia’s emerging economies. That is why S-Oil’s Shaheen is well positioned to meet rising demand for the materials that will be required across the region’s key industries,” said Aramco president & CEO Amin Nasser.

Aramco is the majority shareholder of S-Oil, holding more than 63% of shares through subsidiary Aramco Overseas.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist