Saudi Aramco agrees to $10 billion joint venture deal in China

Amin Nasser, center, the president and chief executive of Saudi Aramco, Jiao Kaihe, left, the chairman of NORINCO Group, Tang Yijun, the governor of Liaoning Province, during the signing ceremonies in Beijing, China. (Aramco)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Saudi Aramco agrees to $10 billion joint venture deal in China

  • The partners will create a new company, Huajin Aramco Petrochemical Co. Ltd., as part of the project
  • Saudi Aramco will supply up to 70 percent of the crude feedstock for the complex

BEIJING: During a visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Beijing, Saudi Aramco on Friday signed a deal worth more than $10 billion for a refining and petrochemical complex in China.

The Saudi delegation, including top Aramco executives, arrived in China on Thursday as part of an Asian tour that included India and Pakistan.

The deal aims to set up a joint venture with Chinese conglomerate Norinco to develop a refining and petrochemical complex in the northeastern city of Panjin in Liaoning province.

The partners would form the Huajin Aramco Petrochemical Co. as part of a project that would include a 300,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery with a 1.5-million-metric-ton-per-annum (mmtpa) ethylene cracker, Aramco said.

The total value of the project is more than $10 billion, making it the largest Sino-foreign joint venture, it added.

Aramco will supply up to 70 percent of the crude feedstock for the complex, which is expected to start operations in 2024.

The investments could help Saudi Arabia regain its place as the top oil exporter to China, a position Russia has held for the last three years. 

Aramco is set to boost its market share by signing supply deals with non-state Chinese refiners.

“Our agreement with Norinco and Liaoning province is a clear demonstration of Saudi Aramco’s strategy to move from beyond a buyer-seller relationship, to one where we can make significant investments to contribute to China’s economic growth and development,” said Aramco CEO Amin Nasser. 

“Our participation in the integrated refining and petrochemical project in Panjin will strengthen our collaborative efforts to enhance energy security, revitalize key growth sectors and industries in Liaoning, and also meet rising demand for products and goods in China’s northeast region.”

There are additional plans to set up a fuels retail business, which will further integrate into the value chain, Aramco said.

By the end of 2019, a three-party company is expected to be formed between Aramco, North Huajin and the Liaoning Transportation Construction Investment Group Co. Ltd. to develop a retail fuel station network in the target markets.

Aramco also signed three memorandums of understanding aimed at expanding its downstream presence in Zhejiang province, one of the most developed regions in China.

Aramco aims to acquire a 9 percent stake in Zhejiang Petrochemical’s 800,000-bpd integrated refinery and petrochemical complex, located in the city of Zhoushan.

The first deal was signed with the Zhoushan government to acquire its 9 percent stake in the project.

The second agreement was signed with Rongsheng Petrochemical, Juhua Group and Tongkun Group, which are the other shareholders of Zhejiang Petrochemical.

Aramco’s involvement in the project will come with a long-term crude supply agreement, and the ability to utilize Zhejiang Petrochemical’s large crude oil storage facility to serve its customers in the Asian region.

An integral part of the project includes a third agreement with Zhejiang Energy to invest in a retail fuel network.

The companies plan to build a large-scale retail network over the next five years in Zhejiang province.

The retail business will be integrated with the Zhejiang Petrochemical complex as an outlet for the refined products produced.

Nasser said the agreements “demonstrate our commitment to the Chinese market and help enhance the strategic integration of our downstream network in Asia. They will further strengthen our relationship with China and Zhejiang province, setting the stage for more cooperation in the future.”

The first phase of the project will include a newly built 400,000-bpd refinery with a 1.4-mmtpa ethylene cracker unit and a 5.2-mmtpa aromatics unit.

The second phase will see a 400,000-bpd refinery expansion, which will include deeper chemical integration than the first phase.


Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

Updated 24 March 2019
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Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

  • The initiative will help Abu Dhabi reduce reliance on oil
  • Mubadala hopes to attract Chinese and Indian companies

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi will commit up to $272 million to support technology start-ups, it said on Sunday, in a dedicated hub as part of efforts to diversify its economy.

US tech giant Microsoft will be a strategic partner, providing technology and cloud services to the businesses that join the hub as the capital of the United Arab Emirates continues its push to reduce reliance on oil revenue.
Abu Dhabi derives about 50 percent of its real gross domestic product and about 90 percent of central government revenue from the hydrocarbon sector, according to ratings agency S&P.
The emirate launched a $13.6 billion stimulus fund, Ghadan 21, in September last year to accelerate economic growth. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic. The new initiative, named Hub 71, is linked to Ghadan will also involve the launch of a $136 million fund to invest in start-ups, said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the technology arm of Mubadala Investment Co.
The goal is to have 100 companies over the next three to five years, Ajami said. “The market opportunities in this region are immense,” he added.
Mubadala, with assets of $225 billion and a big investor in tech companies, will act as the driver of the hub, located in the emirate’s financial district.
Softbank will be active in the hub and support the expansion of companies in which it has invested, Ajami said, adding that Mubadala is also aiming to attract Chinese and Indian companies, among others.
Mubadala which has committed $15 billion to the Softbank Vision Fund, plans to launch a $400 million fund to invest in leading European technology companies.
Incentives mapped out by the government include housing, office space and health insurance as part of the $272 million commitment, Ajami said.
Abu Dhabi will also announce a new research and development initiative on Monday linked to the Ghadan 21 plan, according to an invitation sent to journalists.