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Saudis to Use More Oil to Make Petchems

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Saudi Arabia plans to quadruple the volume of oil that it allocates to petrochemicals production to 4 million barrels per day by 2030 in order to add value to its hydrocarbon sales, according to energy ministry data.

The kingdom currently allocates roughly 1 million b/d of oil to petchems, but the plans call for an additional 1.6 million b/d to be allocated to domestic projects and 1.4 million b/d to overseas projects, the data show.

Sources familiar with the matter say that China and India are being considered as target markets for Saudi Arabia's overseas petchem expansion.

State-controlled Saudi Aramco has emerged as one of the world's largest petchem producers since its acquisition of Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic) in 2020.

Investing in petchem capacity abroad would be one way for Aramco to lock in long-term oil demand, while also adding value to its hydrocarbons.

It could also shield Saudi Arabia from a decline in global consumption of transportation fuels in the years ahead as the result of a shift to electric vehicles, biofuels and hydrogen.

Aramco Eyes Eastern Europe

While Aramco is primarily looking to opportunities in Asia, it might also expand its footprint further in Eastern Europe.

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to acquire a 30% stake in a Polish oil refinery, and industry sources say that it might add to that investment.

Aramco's global refining capacity stands at around 5.4 million b/d, of which 3.3 million b/d is located in the kingdom and the rest in the US, South Korea, China and Japan.

The Saudis also plan to increase their production of gas and renewable energy to help reduce the kingdom's consumption of liquid hydrocarbons in power generation by up to 1 million b/d by 2030. This would free up more oil for export.

Saudi Arabia currently generates 49% of its electricity from gas and 51% from petroleum liquids, including crude oil, according to sources familiar with the matter.

But by 2030, it plans to generate 45%-50% of its electricity from renewable resources and 50%-55% from gas, the sources added.

Reliable Supplier

With high oil prices fueling inflation — which in turn poses the threat of a global economic recession — Saudi Arabia is keen to maintain its credentials as a reliable oil supplier by increasing its export capacity.

It does still have some untapped production capacity that it could draw on and it is also working on expanding its sustainable production capacity by around 1 million b/d to 13 million b/d.

But developing additional capacity is a lengthy and costly process and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said the kingdom will not increase its capacity beyond the expansion that is currently in progress.

Topics:
Chemicals, Corporate Strategy , Oil Demand
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