The Saudi/French joint venture Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (Satorp) looks set to go ahead with a second-phase expansion plan.

The $9.6bn, 400,000 barrel-a-day (b/d) Satorp refinery scheme is currently commissioning at Jubail Industrial City in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia by Saudi Aramco and France’s Total. It is expected to be fully operational by late 2013/early 2014.

With commissioning of the first phase so far advanced, the company has once again began to look at the prospect of a second phase. Market sources indicate the scheme has been given the green light and that it will start to move forward shortly.

“There should be an announcement regarding the second phase at Satorp from the joint venture partners by the end of the year,” says an oil and gas source based in the Eastern Province. “The project will be focused on petrochemicals and be planned to complement the Sadara [Chemical Company] complex.”

MEED reported in June 2012 that Satorp officials had met their counterparts from Sadara to discuss the potential products an expansion of the Satorp scheme could produce. Saudi Aramco and the US’ Dow Chemicals are the 50:50 joint-venture partners at the $20bn Sadara project. The Sadara scheme is the largest petrochemicals complex ever constructed in one phase and is being built adjacent to the Satorp refinery in Jubail.

Aramco is keen to fully integrate all its refining and petrochemicals operations. The decision to implement a second phase of Satorp means that, after extensive technical consultations between all concerned parties, the right chemical mix has been decided upon.

The Satorp refinery joint venture is 62.5 per cent owned by Aramco, with Total owning the remaining 37.5 per cent, and has been under construction since late 2009. The scope of works involves the construction of a refinery complex that will produce a diverse product mix when completed.

About 72 per cent of the offtake will be gasoline and diesel. Jet fuels will also be produced, as well as some base petrochemicals, including paraxylene, benzene and propylene. Some of the gasoline and diesel will be exported, with the rest used to meet soaring domestic demand that is currently growing at 5-7 per cent a year. The base petrochemicals produced in the first phase will be sold to Sadara and other petrochemicals producers in the kingdom.

Saudi Aramco and Total declined to comment when contacted by MEED.