Saudis to boost refining capacity, gas production by 2016

Saudi Arabia’s refining capacity will reach 3.5 million b/d and its production of natural gas will hit 15 bcfd by 2016, according to a senior official.

Prince Faisal bin Turki, advisor at the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals, also said the kingdom will have “the largest network of refineries in the Middle East by 2016.”

Bin Turki told the sixth annual forum of the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association that his country has been passing through a “golden period” in the petrochemical industries.

“It is expected that the kingdom’s gross production of petrochemicals, chemicals, and polymers will reach 100 million tons by 2016 with a total investment of $150 billion by that year,” he said.

“The ministry has diversified its petrochemical products to 120 new products that will enable it to establish future downstream industries that will support the kingdom’s goal of diversifying the sources of the national economy,” he said.

Bin Turki said oil resources would remain the source of wealth for the kingdom’s coming generations, but that the ministry is currently stressing the need to focus on manufacturing valued-added products.

The prince said basic commodities were exported to other countries later to return as finished, value-added products—a situation Bin Turki called “unreasonable.”

The prince said Saudi Arabia is developing industrial clusters for downstream industries across the country to encourage the production of value added products locally.

“The ministry also strives to guarantee the most ideal exploitation of the hydrocarbon resources,” he said.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Minieral Resources Ali I. Al-Naimi said his country had discovered commercially viable quantities of natural gas both onshore and offshore.

“We have discovered commercially utilizable volumes of the various types of natural gas in the Red Sea, in the north of the kingdom and in Rub al-Khali,” said Al-Naimi in a speech delivered by his advisor Ibrahim al-Muhanna.

State-owned Saudi Aramco is on record as saying it will focus on gas in the short to medium term since raising the country’s crude oil production capacity beyond the current 12.5 million b/d is not needed.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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