| KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia/BEIJING
KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia/BEIJING Oct 19 State oil giant Saudi
Aramco and China's Sinopec Group are expected to sign in November the
final agreement to build a 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refinery in Yanbu,
industry sources said.
Fu Chengyu, chairman of Sinopec Group said his company will head to Saudi
Arabia to finalize the deal without confirming the date of the signing. "We will
sign the deal, but the time has not been set yet," he told Reuters.
In July, the Chinese government approved Sinopec's plan to jointly build the
refinery, after state-run Saudi Aramco struck in March an initial pact to build
the $10 billion plant in the world's top oil exporting country.
Aramco will hold a 62.5 percent stake in a joint venture formed to develop
the project, called Red Sea Refining Co, while Sinopec will own the remainder.
The venture would be the first refining project the Chinese state oil major,
parent of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp , builds outside China,
putting it in a race against rival PetroChina which has snatched a string of
refinery deals beyond Chinese borders.
The refinery was to have been built by U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips
and Aramco. But Conoco pulled out of the plans in April 2010 as it shifted away
from the refining business to focus on oil and gas exploration.
Aramco has said it will push on with the project even after ConocoPhillips
withdrew and in July 2010 awarded deals to build the refinery, expected to be
online in 2014.
"Our co-operator Saudi Aramco has a timetable. We will stick to it," Fu said
when asked about the refinery's start-up date.
The refinery is slated to process heavy crude from Saudi Arabia's Manifa
oilfield, which is currently under development to reach an output of 900,000 bpd
Aramco is also building another 400,000-bpd refinery with France's Total
in Jubail on Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast.
Aramco has already partnered with Sinopec at the joint venture Fujian plant
in southeast China.
It is considering to build three new joint venture refineries in Asia as
part of plans to boost its global refining capacity by 50 percent to over 6
million barrels per day (bpd).
Asia is Aramco's largest and fastest growing oil market.
(Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Alison Birrane)