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Tue 16 Feb 2010 11:35 PM

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Aramco delays Jubail refinery start to late 2013

$12bn, 400,000 bpd plant intended to boost Saudi Arabia's domestic refining capacity.

Saudi Arabia's Jubail oil refinery is scheduled to start up in late 2013, a Saudi Aramco official said on Tuesday, later than a previous target of March 2013.

The 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) plant is a venture between state oil company Saudi Aramco and France's Total. Saudi Aramco currently has a 62.5 percent stake in the project while Total has 37.5 percent.

Speaking at an industry conference, Dawood Al Dawood, vice president of marketing and supply, Saudi Aramco, said: "On Saudi Aramco's joint venture with Total, it is scheduled to open late 2013."

That timescale is later than previously stated. The Jubail Refinery's project director told Reuters in October that the plant would come online in March 2013 and cost more than $12 billion to build.

An executive from an international engineering and construction company, one of the firms involved in building Jubail, told Reuters on Tuesday the plant would be built by the end of that year.

The executive said: "Engineering work started from July 2009 and we can start construction from March till 2013; construction would be completed before the end of 2013."

Jubail is among the new plants Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is planning as it looks to boost domestic refining capacity.

In January, Saudi Arabia said Aramco would build a refinery at Jizan, rather than private firms that had bid for the delayed project.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the IP Week industry conference, Al Dawood also said Aramco had 4 million bpd of spare oil production capacity.

He said: "Maximum capacity is 12 million barrels. So we have 4 million barrels of extra capacity which is not used right now."

Saudi Arabia has been limiting crude supply in line with record output curbs it agreed with fellow members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in late 2008 as the recession hurt demand.

The kingdom produced 8.18 million bpd in January, close to its OPEC target of 8.05 million bpd, according to a Reuters survey. (Getty Images)

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