Saudi Project to Make Base Oils at Yanbu

Saudi Aramco and Sabic said they have chosen Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, as the site for a large chemicals refinery that will include a base oil plant. The crude oil to chemicals facility is scheduled to open in 2025.

The companies have publicly discussed the project since November 2016 but had not disclosed the location until their announcement Nov. 1. They have said it will employ crude oil to chemicals technology, a series of processes that uses hydrocracking and catalysts to streamline and eliminate steps in normal petrochemical refining in order to reduce costs while increasing yields.

Their project is designed to process 400,000 barrles per day of crude oil into 9 million metric tons per year of chemicals. The companies have stated that lubricating base stocks would be among the products made by the facility, but they have not disclosed the base oil capacity nor the grade of oils to be produced.

Yanbu is already the site of a base oil plant operated by Luberef, a joint venture between Aramco and Jadwa Investment Co. Early this year the plant completed an upgrade enabling it to make API Group II base stocks, along with the Group I oils that it previously produced.

In April Aramco and Sabic awarded KBR a contract for front-end engineering and design of the crude oil to chemicals project.