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Saudi Aramco announce broad expansion in petrochemical capacity

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A combination of youth and experience were evident at the Saudi Aramco sponsored Research and Innovation summit held by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) last week, with attendees gathered from across the world of petrochemicals, chemicals, technology, engineering and research institutions.

The summit’s inaugural address by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa, Bahrain’s Minister of Oil and Gas, set the tone. He spoke on the importance of progress in R&D in the Gulf region, as well as the fundamental role petrochemicals play in meeting both human wants and needs.

Abdulaziz M. Al-Judaimi, Aramco’s senior vice president of Downstream, delivered the opening address for the first keynote session, ‘Oil-to-Chemicals — Breakthroughs in the Production of Petrochemicals.’

Al-Judaimi went on to highlight that at the end of 2017, chemicals production capacity at Aramco sites and joint ventures reached more than 31 million tpy.

He emphasised that the company is working “to become the world’s leading integrated chemicals business, and is pursuing three routes to fulfil this aspiration ¬– leveraging existing assets, developing a global business platform, and seeking selective organic and inorganic growth.”

Al-Judaimi laid out both what Aramco’s downstream operations are delivering now, and the business’ future. In particular, he highlighted the value addition created by expanding Aramco’s portfolio with new products such as rubber and polyols, enhancing the offer to their base oil customers, and establishing branded retail and lube businesses.

By leveraging feedstock advantage and reconfiguring the conventional refining approach, it was claimed that crude oil to chemicals technology can achieve a higher conversion rate – 45% – 50% vs the industry average of 30% – to generate greater value across the hydrocarbon value chain.

Aramco signed an agreement with CB&I and Chevron Lummus Global to accelerate, scale up, and commercialise Aramco’s Thermal Crude to Chemicals technology, shifting the average conversion rate from 45% to more than 70% by 2020, while working to reduce overall energy and capital intensity.

Last year Aramco and SABIC signed an MoU to develop a fully integrated crude oil to chemicals (COTC) complex in the Kingdom. The COTC complex is expected to process 400 000 bpd of crude oil, which will produce approximately 9 million t of chemicals and base oils annually. The complex is expected to start operations in 2025.

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