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THE NEW YORK TIMES: Saudi Aramco Eyes New Refinery MoUs by End May

Saudi Aramco Eyes New Refinery MoUs by End May


Published: May 1, 2006

Filed at 6:26 a.m. ET

ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Saudi Aramco said on Monday it hopes to sign deals with Total (TOTF.PA) and ConocoPhillipsfor two new refineries in the kingdom by the end of May.

“The company board of directors last week approved the recommendation to engage in MoUs with these two companies and now these companies will have to obtain approval from their own board,'' Khalid al-Buainain, vice president of refining at Aramco told reporters at an oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi.

“I think it is going to be very soon, before the end of this month,'' adding that the cost of each project was expected to be around $6 billion.

The new refineries, each with a capacity of 400,000 bpd, will be export-oriented.

Buainain also said that the Saudi Arabia state oil company, together with its partners, would spend $50 billion over the next five years to boost refining capacity at home and abroad.

The total investment would include $3-$4 billion to double the capacity of a refinery in South Korea, funds for integrating an existing refinery in the Philippines with a petrochemical facility, as well as the $10 billion Petrorabigh project in Saudi Arabia.

“We are also considering an expansion at Ras Tanura with a petrochemical facility, emulating the concept of Petrorabigh,'' he said.

“We are talking to a number of potential investors and companies to slightly expand the refinery and build a petrochemical plant,'' he said, adding that SABIC (2010.SE) was one of the companies it was in talks with.

He said the Yanbu refinery was a “potential site'' for expansion but there were no talks yet.

Another Aramco official said in March that the firm may expand Ras Tanura and Yanbu plants by 100,000 bpd each, adding that the expansions could happen by 2009 or 2010.

In the U.S., Motiva, the U.S. oil refining joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSb.L) (RDSa.L) and Aramco, has chosen its Port Arthur, Texas refinery as the site for a massive 325,000 bpd refinery expansion the group is studying, Shell said on Friday.

If approved by Motiva's board of directors, the expansion would make the Port Arthur refinery one of the largest in the United States.

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