Saudi Aramco builds 3 new refineries

MANAMA – A senior official of Saudi Aramco disclosed Monday that his company has embarked on building three fully-transformative refineries at a 400,000 bpd each.

Eng. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco’s President and Senior Executive Officer, disclosed that the company is building the refineries in Jazan, Satorp, a joint venture with Total, and Yaserf, a joint venture with Sonic, in addition to building or expanding two world-class chemical complexes: Sadara complex, a joint venture with Daewoo Chemical and Petro Rabegh complex, a joint venture with Somitomo Chemical.

In a key address at the Middle East Conference for Refining and Petrochemicals “Petrotech 2014”, currently ongoing in Manama, Bahrain, under the patronage of Saudi Aramco under the theme “Towards a prosperous transformative industry amid a new situation,” Al-Falih summarized the historic opportunities available for the refining and petrochemical industries in the Arab Gulf region and ways of investing them.

Over the last three decades, the Arab Gulf region has exported low-price petrochemical materials and imported a variety of technologies, instead of adding the maximum values for hydro carbonic material through more diversification and appropriation of products, a move that would have enabled the producers to establish secondary and specialized industries and produce export-oriented manufactures and semi-manufactured goods, he said.

Saudi Aramco is reportedly planning to enter the retail market by setting up gas stations fully owned by the company.

The move comes as part of the firm’s strategy to become an integrated energy company that enters into more business ventures, including petrochemicals and the sales of refined products.

“We had already begun implementing this project by the end of last year,” the company’s annual report said.

No exact date was disclosed for when the first Saudi Aramco retail operation will start but the company said it is weighing several strategic options to expand the company’s operations.

Aramco has already received approval for establishing a fully owned company for retail services.

The new company is licensed to build, operate and maintain service stations in selected areas.

The company will not only run gas stations but also supermarkets and other services.

Saudi Aramco has also indicated that it could hand services other than fuel supply to potential partners who could add value to the company and its trademark.

Meanwhile,  the Middle East crude market firmed on Monday on robust demand in Asia and as sellers diverted excess supply held over from previous months into the Mediterranean region.

About 2 million barrels of Murban may head to the Mediterranean, a trader said, reducing length in the Asia market.

This helped prop up premiums for July-loading Murban to 30-40 cents a barrel, up from discounts in the previous month.

Das Blend has also traded at similar premiums.

Bahrain and Qatar also sold some cargoes at higher premiums than previously.

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