Following a historic two-day visit to Tehran last week, Kuwaiti Amir, Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah, led a delegation to China, where a memorandum of understanding to enhance oil and gas sector cooperation was reached between state-owned counterparts Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and Sinopec. While the MOU appears to be vague, it may further boost odds that a planned 300,000 b/d joint venture (JV) refinery between KPC’s overseas downstream arm Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI) and Sinopec will move forward. KPI CEO Bakhit al-Rashidi recently told MEES that he is optimistic the planned JV will be built with KPI’s participation, as Sinopec had agreed to build an integrated petrochemicals complex with the refinery (MEES, 23 May). However, while KPI and Sinopec have agreed in principle to the shareholder structure, KPI hopes to find an elusive foreign partner to absorb some of its share.

Sinopec had been set to proceed without the Kuwaitis despite years of talks. But China recently reworked its refining and petrochemicals strategy, brining KPI back to the negotiating table. But questions remain as to whether KPI will be able reduce its 50% share to 30% by bringing in another foreign firm. “The conditions still aren’t there. They haven’t found a third international partner,” a Kuwaiti industry source tells MEES. (CONTINUED - 288 WORDS)