Saudi Aramco has already approached a number of international oil companies (IOCs) over replacing the US’ ConocoPhillips as its partner on the planned $10bn Yanbu refinery project, senior executives close to the project tell MEED.

Both Aramco and Conoco announced on 21 April that the US energy firm was leaving the 400,000 barrel a day export refinery project as it no longer fits in with the company’s strategy, which will focus on upstream development in the future (MEED 21:4:10).

“This has been going on for quite a while, and Conoco tried to leave the project entirely a month or two ago,” says one senior executive in talks with Aramco over a number of projects. “They have already been talking to a few other people about taking over.”

Firms which could take an interest in the project include France’s Total, which is developing another $9.6bn refinery scheme with Aramco at Jubail, and the US’ Chevron Corporation, which bid on the Yanbu project when Aramco was selecting partners in 2006 (MEED 1:2:06).

Aramco is “assessing options to progress the Yanbu project”, the energy giant said in its 21 April statement.