Saudi Aramco plans $125 billion spending spree

On The Wires: Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil exporter, wants to boost oil-processing capacity to 6 million barrels a day from the current 4m barrels is preparing to spend $125 billion to achieve that.

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Sangim Han

SEOUL // Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil exporter, will spend about $125 billion (Dh459bn) on projects over the next five years as it seeks to increase refining capacity by 50 per cent, Chief Executive Officer Khalid al-Falih said.

The company wants to boost oil-processing capacity to 6 million barrels a day from the current 4m barrels, Mr al-Falih said in a speech in Seoul today. Aramco is building two plants in the kingdom and is considering a further four "grassroots" facilities, he said. That includes one refinery at Jaizan in Saudi Arabia and possible joint-venture projects in China, Vietnam and Indonesia, he said.

"Saudi Aramco isn't just about petroleum production," he said. "We are also one of the world's largest producers of natural gas, a major player in refining, and we are ramping up our petrochemical activities."

Aramco's domestic and international spending plans include oil exploration and production as well as natural gas, refining and petrochemical facilities, he said. Saudi Arabia plans capital expenditure of more than $450bn in the same period, according to Mr al-Falih.

All 12 members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries including Saudi Arabia will need to provide a daily average of 29.8m barrels a day this year to satisfy global requirements, or about 600,000 a day more than they pumped in March, the International Energy Agency said April 12.

Aramco built the world's largest natural gas network about 30 years ago, and doubled its processing capacity.

The company plans to expand the network to exceed 14bn standard-cubic-feet per day of capacity in the next five years when the network will encompass seven world-scale gas plants.

For the expansion, the company continues to make natural gas discoveries in places including the Gulf, while beginning exploration in areas such as the Red Sea and the north-west region of the kingdom.

These activities are adding to the company's reserves of 275 trillion cubic feet, the world's fifth-largest proven holdings of gas, in addition to the world's biggest reserves of conventional crude oil, he estimated.

The company is also expanding its petrochemical capabilities in the kingdom, through a petrochemical project in Jubail with Dow Chemical and a planned expansion of Rabigh Refining & Petrochemicals, its joint venture with Sumitomo Chemical.

Mr Al-Falih said South Korea is now among Saudi Arabia's four largest trading partners.

The country accounts for about a fifth of Saudi Arabia's total petroleum exports, and Aramco supplies 30 per cent of South Korea's crude imports.

Aramco is holding its board meeting for the first time in South Korea this week, Mr al-Falih said.

"The Far East is the destination for two out of every three barrels of crude oil" that Aramco exports, he said.

Aramco owns 35 per cent of S-Oil, South Korea's third- largest refiner that's expanding its processing capacity in Ulsan to more than 650,000 barrels a day.

Export Import Bank of Korea and Korea Trade Insurance each signed a memorandum of understanding with Aramco on possible future project financing, according to the website of the oil and gas producer.

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