King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Chinese president Xi Jinping. Image courtesy of Saudi Aramco.

Officials from Saudi Arabia and China inaugurated a joint venture refinery on Wednesday as Saudi Aramco considers other collaborations with Chinese oil firms.

State-owned Saudi Aramco said Wednesday that King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Chinese president Xi Jinping jointly inaugurated the Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company (YASREF) refinery.

YASREF was established in January 2012 and is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, with 62.5 percent share, and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), with a 37.5 percent share.

The refinery completed its first shipment in January 2015, sending 300,000 barrels of clean diesel fuel from the YASREF Marine Terminal.

“YASREF will play a significant role in promoting the economic and trade cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia and in enhancing the long-standing friendship between the two countries,” Sinopec chairman Dr. Wang Yupu said.

According to Albawaba, the companies are planning to expand the refinery, but further details about any planned expansion have not been disclosed yet.

The YASREF refinery has the capacity to refine 400,000 barrels per day  of Arabian heavy crude and produces over 13.5 million gallons per day of ultra-clean transportation fuels and other high-value refined products.

YASREF, located in  Yanbu’ Industrial City on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, can deliver up to 100,000 barrels per day of clean, high-octane gasoline through a gasoline complex using  an advanced continuous catalytic reformer.

In conjunction with the inauguration, Saudi Aramco and Sinopec signed a framework agreement for strategic cooperation “to enhance the competitiveness of the crude oil supplied by Saudi Aramco to Sinopec and to actively explore cooperation opportunities” in several key areas.

“The newly signed agreement will enable the two companies to further enhance their relationship and jointly provide advanced, high quality products and services along the hydrocarbon industry chain,” Saudi Aramco said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Aramco is hosting advanced stage talks with Sinopec and China’s CNPC to discuss the possibility of more projects that could include refinery projects in China.

“We are hoping that Aramco will expand its investments in the refining, marketing and petrochemicals sectors,” Saudi Aramco chairman Khalid al-Falih told the paper.

China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner and Sinopec is now Saudi Aramco’s largest crude oil trading partner and onshore drilling service provider.


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