Aramco continues to diversify

gas ring

Saudi Aramco – Saudi Arabia’s national oil company (I have worked on their projects on 9 occasions since 2001) are in the news at the moment as they look to diversify and spread their investments across the World.

Two recent articles in Downstream Today outline such plans.

In the first Thai PTT and Saudi Aramco in Joint Vietnam Petrochemical Project, they are joining forces with the Thai energy company PTT (for whom I have also worked on a project) to submit plans for a $22bn 400,000 bpd Refinery and PetChem facility to be built in Vietnam.

In the second story Catalytic Processes Could Yield Alternatives to Refineries, Ethane Crackers a California-based company claims that it has found a commercially viable technique to directly convert natural gas into liquid fuels or petrochemical building blocks.

This is significant for two reasons – firstly transporting gas long distances is difficult and expensive, liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities are costly and technically complex as are the ships that transport the fuel at -161 deg C.  Any process that can convert gas to liquid fuels more easily will be of real interest.

The second reason is that much of the gas, once re-vapourised is used as a Petrochemical feedstock anyway.  So if this process can make liquefaction easier, cheaper and provide the PetChem building blocks at the same time it could be a real money spinner.

The company in question, Siluria, announced that it raised more than $30 million in a financing led by Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) – the venture investment arm of Saudi Aramco.

This indicates the level of diversity – in processes, products and locations that Aramco are looking at.

Interesting times.