Aramco chief calls for chemical expansion

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Saudi Aramco) wants to become “a top-three player in ethylene, paraxylene, and benzene” and is increasing the integration of its refining and petrochemical industries to pursue that goal, says President and Chief Executive Officer Amin H. Nasser.

The company is researching cracking technologies able to increase the petrochemical yields of crude oil, he said Sept. 26 at a conference in Bahrain, encouraging neighboring countries to do the same.

“More liquids cracking for petrochemicals would lock in larger oil sales volumes for our region’s producers over the long term,” he said.

Saudi Aramco also envisions “the elimination of the entire refining step in the process so that we can introduce crude oil directly into the petrochemicals manufacturing process,” he said.

He mentioned Saudi Aramco’s plan to conduct a joint feasibility with Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corp. of a fully integrated crude-to-petrochemicals plant (OGJ Online, June 28, 2016).

Saudi Aramco’s goal to become a top producer of basic olefins and aromatics fits the first of four strategies Hasser described for increasing Persian Gulf producers’ share of global chemical markets:

• Enhancing value chains “by producing more differentiated, higher-value commodity petrochemicals, along with their derivatives.”

• Converting commodity petrochemicals into higher-value products.

• Increasing the manufacture of higher-value products by expanding from commodities to specialty chemicals.

• Deriving “even more value from those specialty chemicals by building higher-value downstream manufacturing and conversion industries.”

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