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Aramco plans $60 billion petrochemical push

Oil giant plans chemical investments in the U.S., India, and Saudi Arabia

by Alexander H. Tullo
April 13, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 16

A photo of Motiva's Port Arthur, Texas, refinery.
Credit: Motiva
Motiva's refinery in Port Arthur,Texas.

In an effort to plunge deeper into petrochemicals, Saudi Aramco has signed agreements to invest more than $60 billion in oil and chemical projects in the U.S., India, and Saudi Arabia.

In the U.S., the company’s Motiva refining arm signed a preliminary agreement to use ethylene technology from the engineering firm TechnipFMC. Motiva also signed a deal with UOP for aromatics production and extraction technology that would be used to build a benzene and p-xylene complex on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Motiva expects these projects to cost between $8 billion and $10 billion, though it won’t make a final investment decision until 2019.

In India, Aramco signed a memorandum of understanding to build a $44 billion refining and petrochemical complex with partners Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, and Hindustan Petroleum. To be located in Ratnagiri, India, the facility would upgrade 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, making it among the world’s largest refineries. The petrochemical complex would have 18 million metric tons of annual production.

Aramco also signed an agreement with the French oil company Total to build a $5 billion ethylene cracker downstream from a refining joint venture in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The parties also plan to build $4 billion in ethylene derivatives units at the site. They will commence front-end engineering and design later this year.

Aramco, the Saudi national oil company, is keen on investing in petrochemicals as a new outlet for its vast production of oil as the transportation fuel market matures and, eventually, declines.

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman observed the signing ceremonies in Houston and Paris. He has made diversification of the Saudi economy a national priority.


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