By Luke Pachymuthu and Reem Shamseddine
Export-oriented venture between Saudi Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical in move.
Saudi Arabia's oil refining and petrochemical plant, Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co (PetroRabigh) has started exporting small quantities of polymers, a Middle East based source said on Thursday.
PetroRabigh, an export-oriented joint venture between state oil giant Saudi Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical, started partial operations of its facilities in the fourth quarter of 2008.
An ethane cracker which can produce 1.25 million tonnes per year of ethylene is running well, the source said.
Aramco and Sumitomo paired up in 2005 to upgrade a 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery and added a petrochemical complex, the largest in the region.
The upgrade also added a 200,000 bpd vacuum distillation unit, a 92,000 bpd catalytic cracking unit and a 26,000 bpd alkylation unit. A gas plant will produce 900,000 tonnes per year of propylene, feedstocks for petrochemical production.
The exports are likely to find their way into China, traders said.
"China is now the only market without a surplus, so very likely this will be getting shipped off there," an Asian based trader said. (Reuters)