Saudi Arabia signed $50bn-worth of agreements with companies and service providers during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh, between 23-25 October.

Although FII’s objective was to showcase how Riyadh is keen on transforming the kingdom’s oil-reliant economy into a future-ready, knowledge-based one, just three out of the 25 deals signed at the investors’ conference pertained to the transport sector, with the rest related to the larger energy and industrial value chain.

State energy giant Saudi Aramco accounted for the bulk of the deals, signing 15 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth $34bn.

Aramco’s deals covered the full spectrum of the energy value chain, from signing agreements with partners to begin work on a greenfield petrochemicals project and expand capacity at existing refineries and petrochemical plants, to setting up oil field services centres in-country and finalising investments for its maritime and offshore fabrication yards.

“We had an accelerated transformation programme in the company seven years ago, in which the goal was to become the leading energy and petrochemicals enterprise,” Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser said at the FII. “We are the leaders in upstream, but we want to be leading in the refining and petrochemicals sectors as well.

“Our refining capacity today is 5 million barrels a day (b/d), which we want to raise to 8-10 million b/d in the next 10 years,” Nasser said. “We want to balance our portfolio between upstream and downstream as part of our strategy. When we integrate our refineries with petrochemical plants, we achieve value.”

The kingdom’s Energy, Industry & Mineral Resources Ministry sealed several agreements related to mining and localisation of manufacturing.

The type and pattern of deals inked at the summit are evidence that despite working towards its Vision 2030 goal to wean the economy off its dependence on energy income, Riyadh realises that hydrocarbons and its derivatives sectors will continue to fuel the economy in the long run.

Agreements signed by Aramco at FII:
  • MoU with Total (France) to launch engineering studies to build a petrochemicals complex in Jubail
  • MoU with Total regarding the potential establishment of a retail service station network
  • MoU with Hyundai Heavy Industries (South Korea) regarding potential investments in King Salman International Maritime Complex for Industries & Services at Ras al-Khair
  • MoU with Baker Hughes GE (US) for investment in oil field services, equipment and technologies
  • MoU with Schlumberger (US) to invest in drilling equipment and installation
  • MoU with Halliburton for investment in oil field technologies and facilities
  • MoU with Oilfield Supply Centre to invest in oil field essential supplies
  • MoU with Flex-Steel to invest in reinforced thermoplastic pipe facilities
  • MoU with NPCC (National Petroleum Construction Company, UAE) to invest in a fully integrated fabrication yard and marine base in the kingdom
  • MoU with SeAH Changwon Integrated Specialty Steel Company (South Korea) to invest in localisation of engineering steel
  • MoU with GumPro (India) to invest in drilling chemicals facility
  • MoU with Acwa Power (local) and Air Product (US) regarding the Jizan refinery gasification power project
  • MoU with Sumitomo (Japan) regarding potential investments to upgrade the PetroRabigh refinery
  • M0U with Norinco (China) regarding potential investments in refining and chemicals projects
  • M0U with NOV (US) to invest in manufacturing and repair of onshore rigs and equipment
Agreements inked by the Ministry of Energy, Industry & Mineral Resources at FII:
  • MoU with Trafigura Group for setting up a copper, zinc and lead smelter in Ras al-Khair city
  • MoU with Pan-Asia (China) for the construction of a petrochemicals complex in Jizan. The raw material for this project, estimated to be worth $4bn, will be provided by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic)
  • MoU with Norinco for investment in the kingdom’s industries
  • MoU with Flexigen for investments to develop opportunities in the rubber sector
  • MoU to establish a partnership between Sabic, Riwaq and Schmid Group to develop an industrial project that will produce advanced polycarbonates
  • MoU for the establishment of a partnership between Sabic, Riwaq and Schmid Group for the industrial production of batteries. (The two MoUs between the three partners are worth $427m)