The refineries will be designed to process heavy fuels to produce gasoline, diesel, petroleum coke, bitumen and vacuum gas oil (VGO), besides other clean fuels. The next stage in the project implementation will be the issue of tenders for detailed cost analysis and process design.

Aramco plans the construction of two refineries, each with capacity 400,000-420,000 barrels a day, with the possible locations being Yanbu and Jubail-2. The projects will be carried out in joint ventures with international oil companies (IOCs) on a fast-track basis.

In early 2005, Aramco approached up to 10 IOCs to gauge their interest in taking an equity stake in the Yanbu project. ‘Negotiations are ongoing with IOCs and we hope to start [project] execution by 2006,’ says an Aramco official (MEED 2:9:05).