Editor's Comment: Downstream sector surges ahead

The watershed crude-oil-to-chemicals (COTC) complex to be built by Saudi Aramco and SABIC is projected to create 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

March 2018 was one of the most promising months for the Middle Eastern downstream industry in the recent past as many major contracts were signed for some of the futuristic projects in the region.

The most important among these deals is Wood being awarded a contract for project management and FEED for the joint endeavour of Saudi Aramco and SABIC for the planned fully integrated and strategic crude-oil-to-chemicals (COTC) complex in Saudi Arabia. The COTC complex will process 400,000bpd of crude oil, which will produce nine million tonnes of chemicals and base oils annually, and is expected to start operations in 2025. This watershed complex is projected to create 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.

According to reports, the COTC complex is expected to have 1.5% impact on the GDP of Saudi Arabia by 2030. Apart from solidifying the Kingdom’s position as a global leader in chemicals, this project with maximise value across the entire hydrocarbons chain through integration.

In another significant development during the month, UAE’s ADNOC Refining signed a key contract for a project to introduce crude oil processing flexibility at the ADNOC-owned Ruwais oil refinery with Samsung Engineering.

As ADNOC accelerates the delivery of its downstream strategy, this project – scheduled to be completed by 2022 – will empower the Ruwais refinery west complex to process up to 420,000bpd of Upper Zakum crude, or similar crude types from the market, allowing ADNOC to extract greater value from its crude resources by liberating Murban crude, which commands a higher price on global oil markets, to be utilised for export sales. The value creation out of this strategic move is going to be enormous and it will give ADNOC huge financial momentum.

While these two are the key projects, which have made significant progress during March, there are many more in the list. Most of these projects are mentioned in our 2018 Top 30 EPC Contractors listing released in this issue. From the ongoing trends, I am confident that 2018 will witness dramatic progress in the Middle Eastern downstream industry.

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