JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia Saudi Aramco plans to set up a new chemicals subsidiary, the company said in its official magazine, The Arabian Sun, on Wednesday.
"The Board... approved the creation of a new subsidiary to conduct the company's chemicals business," Aramco said. It did not give further details in the weekly in-house publication.
Aramco's board met last week in Shanghai to discuss the company's plans and appointed a new downstream head as well as several vice presidents in other key positions.
Abdulaziz al-Judaimi was named as senior vice president for downstream operations.
Downstream, covering refining and chemicals, is an important area for the company as it diversifies operations as it prepares for an initial public offering (IPO) next year, when around 5 percent of the firm is expected to be listed in Riyadh and on other international bourses.
Last year, Judaimi, then business line head for downstream, said Saudi Aramco aims to almost triple its chemicals production to 34 million metric tons per year by 2030.
Over the same period Aramco's global refining capacity target is to raise it to 8-10 million barrels per day (bpd) from more than 5 million bpd now.
Developing petrochemicals is part of the kingdom's major economic reform plan, known as Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy away from oil.
This will also help Aramco boost value from hydrocarbons by securing revenue streams and become less vulnerable to oil price swings.
The oil giant is planning to develop a massive oil to chemicals project with Saudi Basic Industries Corp < 2010.SE> which industry sources say will cost more than $20 billion.
(Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; Editing by Rania El Gamal)