Aramco eyes top oil refiner status

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Saudi Aramco office in Shanghai,  China
Saudi Aramco office in Shanghai, China. Aramco’s CEO says the company aims to become the world’s top producer of refined petroleum products, with massive expansion plans in China. Photo-Saudi Aramco

Revealing it’s ambitious growth plans, the CEO of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) has stated that the company is chasing the status of becoming the world’s top producer of refined fuels and petrochemicals.

Currently the world’s biggest crude-oil exporter, Saudi Aramco CEO, Khalid Al-Falih told a conference in Beijing that the company was “committed” to building an oil refinery in the southwestern province of Yunnan in China, with a refining  capacity of 200,000 barrels of oil per day. As refined products fetch much higher prices than crude oil, Saudi Aramco is rapidly expanding it’s refining and petrochemical production capacities to meet increased domestic demand and higher exports.

In 2011, Aramco signed a deal with Chinese oil company PetroChina to construct the refinery. Aramco has already outlined it’s global refining and petrochemical expansion plans, which is expected to double to about 8 million barrels per day within ten years. Exxon Mobil Corp. is currently the world’s largest integrated crude-oil processor, boasting a capacity of 5.4 million barrels a day at the end of 2012.

According to Al-Falih, “there is a tremendous degree of synergy between our company and the energy sector of China. This has been proven time and time again by the strengthening relationships we have enjoyed over the last two decades, though it is clear to me that the best days of our work with China are still to come.”

China is one of the largest consumers of crude-oil, with Saudi Arabia supplying 53.9 million tonnes of it to the country in 2012 — accounting for one-fifth of China’s total imports last year. As Chinese oil demand is set to double by 2030, Aramco is expected to play a major role in meeting the energy needs of the country.

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