Aramco Mulls Indian Refinery in Plan to Boost Asia Footprint

  • Saudi producer also looking at China, Indonesia, Malaysia
  • Talks with China National Petroleum `good and ongoing': CEO

The world’s largest crude exporter plans to invest in Asian refineries to ensure it has plenty of buyers in the fastest-growing region for fuel demand.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is adding India to the list of Asian countries where it intends to build new refineries as part of a plan to almost double its global refining capacity, Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser told Bloomberg in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, is also considering plants in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The Dhahran-based company is considering expanding its refining capacity to find new outlets for Saudi crude oil, Nasser said Tuesday in a speech during a Saudi refining conference in Jubail.

The company already owns a stake in a refinery in China’s Fujian province along with Exxon Mobil Corp. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. It’s still in talks with another partner, China National Petroleum Corp., to build a new joint-venture refinery. “Talks are good and ongoing,” he said.

Aramco has a refining capacity of around 5.4 million barrels a day now, and it will almost double that to between 8 million and 10 million, he said, without specifying a time frame for the expansion. Saudi Arabia produced 10.2 million barrels of oil a day in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Aramco’s natural gas output of more than 12 billion cubic feet a day will almost double in 10 years, Nasser said.

In Saudi Arabia, the company is now considering whether to add more petrochemical plants to its existing refineries. The company is close to finishing a petrochemical plant within its joint refinery with Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd in Rabigh. Aramco is also studying a similar plan at Ras Tanura, its largest refinery in Saudi Arabia that has the capacity to refine 550,000 barrels of oil a day, Nasser said. The company is testing technology to turn crude directly into chemical products, he said.

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