March 6, 2018 / 1:01 PM / 17 days ago

Russia’s Sibur says targets rubber venture with Saudi Aramco

LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - Russian petrochemical giant Sibur is in talks with Saudi Aramco to set up a venture to produce synthetic rubber, its chief said in a move highlighting growing cooperation between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia, the biggest non-OPEC oil exporter.

Former arch-rivals Russia and Saudi Arabia have forged closer ties in the past two years as they sought to prop up oil prices by curbing output.

The deal between OPEC and Russia also opened the door to political dialogue even though the two nations are still effectively fighting a proxy war in Syria. It has also encouraged discussions of broader bilateral investment in the energy sector.

“The Saudi-Russian dialogue has probably accelerated the project, even though we started discussion some four years ago,” Sibur Chief Executive Dmitry Konov told reporters.

The two companies signed a cooperation memorandum last year when Saudi King Salman visited Russia but so far have not disclosed project details.

Konov said Sibur possessed synthetic rubber technology it was looking to export amid low feedstock availability in Russia and low demand growth at home.

Good feedstock availability in Saudi Arabia and growing Asian markets could make the project attractive, Konov said.

He said the venture would likely involve other companies as it would require technologies which Sibur or Aramco do not possess. (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Jason Neely)

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