The state-run firm says the project, which includes a 240,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery and petrochemicals output of 2.2 million tonnes-a-year (t/y), is now 75 per cent complete and will start in phases, with the first phase set to begin at the close of 2008.

By the first quarter of 2009 the last phase of the project, a 800,000 t/y ethylene cracker, is expected to be online.

China’s Sinopec holds a 50 per cent stake, with Aramco and the US’ ExxonMobil Corporation splitting the remaining shares.

Over the next 15 years China’s demand for oil is expected to roughly double. By 2010, 95 per cent of Beijing’s imported oil will come from the Middle East, with an estimated three-quarters of that from Aramco (MEED 15:2:08).