Saudi Aramco and Total to build $9bn petrochemical complex

Front-end engineering and design (FEED) to begin in the third quarter of 2018

A new petrochemical complex will be built at Jubail, Saudi Arabia following an agreement that Saudi Aramco signed with French energy firm Total. $9 billion is to be invested into the project, which is expected to create 8,000 jobs. The complex is expected to produce more than 2.7 million metric tons of high value chemicals.

The complex will be integrated downstream of the Satorp refinery, a JV between Saudi Aramco (62.5%) and Total (37.5%) in Jubail, in an effort to exploit operational synergies, Saudi Aramco said in a statement. The new complex will comprise a world-size mixed-feed steam cracker (50% ethane and refinery off-gas) with a capacity of 1.5 million tons per year of ethylene and related high-added-value petrochemical units.

“The agreement deepens the exemplary relationship enjoyed by our two companies over many decades. It is one that has evolved from a standard buyer-seller arrangement to one imbued with common interests to further develop and diversify our businesses,” said Amin H Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco at the signing ceremony, which was organised during the official visit of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to Paris.

According to Saudi Aramco, the Satorp refinery is recognised as being one of the most efficient in the world. Its capacity was increased from 400,000 barrels per day in 2014 to 440,000 barrels per day today.

Saudi Aramco said the project will require an investment of approximately $5bn. The cracker is expected to feed other petrochemical and specialty chemical plants, which will call for a $4bn investment by third-party investors.

“Our joint venture Satorp is a remarkably successful model of industry partnership and we are keen to build on this success to further underpin Saudi Aramco’s strategy to expand its capacity in the chemicals sector by 2030,” added Nasser.

Total’s Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said the project illustrates its strategy of maximising the integration of its large refining and petrochemical platforms and of expanding its petrochemical operations from low-cost feedstock, to take advantage of the fast growing Asian polymer market.

“Furthermore, this project will enable us to strengthen our ties with Saudi Aramco, with whom we successfully operate our biggest and most efficient refinery in the world. It will also contribute to the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom by creating 8,000 jobs and bringing in new high-added-value technologies,” explained Pouyanné.

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