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Wed 8 Dec 2010 03:09 PM

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Aramco fast tracks Wasit plant, online in 2013

Oil giant is currently reviewing onshore bids for plant, while Shaybah bids are ongoing

Aramco fast tracks Wasit plant, online in 2013
FAST TRACK: Saudi Aramco will bring its largest gas plant online in 2013 ahead of schedule, as it accelerates output to cope with rising domestic demand (Bloomberg Images)

State oil giant Saudi Aramco will bring its largest gas plant online in 2013, earlier than expected, as it accelerates gas output expansion to meet rising domestic demand, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

The state owned company is now focusing on raising gas output after it completed a massive crude expansion programme last year which took its oil production capacity to 12 million barrels per day (bpd).

Domestic demand for gas in the world's largest oil exporter is growing 5 to 6 percent annually.

Khalid al Falih said in April the Wasit gas plant would be on stream in 2014. He also said that together with two other plants, Khursaniyah and Karan, Wasit would help Saudi Arabia process its targeted production increase of raw gas to 15.5 billion cfd by 2015 from 10.2 billion cfd.

Falih made Wednesday's remarks to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

Wasit is one of two new gas projects Aramco plans to develop. The other one is Shaybah natural gas liquids (NGL), for which Falih said construction contracts would be awarded in the first quarter of 2011. The plant would come online by late 2014.

Wasit has the capacity to process 2.5 billion cubic feet per day (cfd) of gas from non-associated offshore sour gas fields Arabiyah and Hasbah. It would also produce around 1.75 billion cfd of sales gas.

Aramco is currently reviewing onshore bids for Wasit while bidding for Shaybah is still ongoing.

Falih added that the cost of expanding PetroRabigh, a joint venture between Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical is expected to reach between $6bn to $8bn.

The complex is integrated with a 400,000 bpd refinery and was part of Aramco's plans to build refinery based petrochemical complexes across the kingdom.

Another petrochemical complex which was to be integrated with the Ras Tanura refinery, the largest in the Middle East, would cost nearly $20bn, Falih said. Aramco and Dow decided to relocate the project to Jubail to save costs and to benefit from the infrastructure already in place.

Falih said the two complexes would include a number of new products which have never been produced in the Middle East, including metallocene-based elastomers, glycol ethers, solution polyethylene, MMA/PMMA (methyl methacryllate/poly methyl methacryllate), nylon and EP-rubber.

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