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  • Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco has joined with China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec) on a massive oil and chemicals venture in China’s Fujian province.


    Abdullah Jum’ah, president and chief executive of Aramco, says it highlights the importance of China as a oil consumer, and says his company is ready to work with Beijing to keep its economy racing along.


    The deal is reported to be valued at US$3.5bn. More projects with Sinopec are in the pipeline.


    “That will expand an existing refinery complex to provide additional quantities of refined products and petrochemicals,” he claims. “The partnership with Sinopec doesn’t end there. We are working together to explore the feasibility of developing a new grassroots refinery in Qingdao in Shandong province.


    “Our discussions have been very positive and we believe this refinery project would hold tremendous benefits for Sinopec and Saudi Aramco and of course for the Chinese consumer.”


    The Fujian project also involves Exxon Mobil and encompasses a refinery expansion, a petrochemical plant and a joint marketing venture to operate 600 service stations, according to Exxon.


    It shows major players are intent on building assets in the world’s fastest-growing oil market at a time when a Chinese move to buy US producer Unocal has some US politicians worried about energy independence.


    Under the deal, Exxon and Aramco will each hold 25% interest in the Fujian Refining and Ethylene Joint Venture Project, while Fujian Petrochemical will own the rest.


    The project will add about 160,000 barrels a day of crude-processing capability to an 80,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Quanzhou, in Fujian, Aramco says.