Country Listing

Saudi Arabia Table of Contents

Saudi Arabia

Downstream Development Plans

In addition to repairing damaged oil-refining facilities, mainly Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura refinery, the government has ordered Samarec to undertake a US$5 billion program to upgrade refineries. This five-year program will endeavor to transform its relatively basic domestic refining system into a sophisticated system designed to produce a cleaner, lighter series of products featuring higher octane, lead-free gasoline. Although aimed primarily at meeting a growing internal demand, this development could position Saudi Arabia as a major exporter of gasoline by the end of the 1990s. Moreover, Samarec's refineries are being revamped to process more Arab Heavy crude oils, leaving a larger proportion of Arab Light for export. Concentrating on the Riyadh, Yanbu, and Jiddah refineries fully owned by Samarec, the first phase of the project will cost US$1.7 billion. Later phases may include upgrading the operation of the kingdom's most problemprone refinery at Rabigh. Two projects at the Petromin/Mobil plant to produce methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), an additive for unleaded gasoline, and an isomerization unit are also part of the downstream capacity-upgrading plans.

Downstream plans overseas call for acquiring 2 million to 2.5 million bpd of refining and marketing capacity abroad. Combined with current domestic refining capacity, such an expansion would allow the kingdom to refine roughly half of its crude oil output. In 1992 Saudi Aramco owned 50 percent of Star Enterprises, a joint venture with Texaco, in the United States. Star Enterprises operations included three refineries with combined refining capacity of 615,000 bpd. The company planned to upgrade one of the refineries at Port Arthur, Texas. It also had acquired significant distribution facilities including 450 gas stations in Florida. In Asia Saudi Aramco had taken a 33 percent share in Ssangyong Oil Refining Company refinery in Onsan, South Korea, giving the oil exporter approximately 175,000 bpd in refining capacity for its exclusive use. Further downstream plans called for expansion in Europe and Japan.

Data as of December 1992