Saudi State firm Aramco and France’s Total this week signed a joint development agreement for front-end engineering and design of a $5bn world-scale mixed feed cracker and polyethylene unit in the Jubail 2 industrial zone on the Saudi Gulf coast. The plant will be integrated with the 440,000 b/d Satorp joint venture refinery (Aramco 62.5%, Total 37.5%).

Both firms see petrochemicals driving global demand for oil and gas in the medium term and are investing accordingly. This week alone Total and Algeria’s Sonatrach committed to a major project (MEES, 12 October), while the French firm last week announced a 1mn t/y US cracker and polyethylene joint venture with Austria’s Borealis and Canada’s Nova Chemicals. Total is also expanding capacity of its Daesan JV plant with Korea’s Hanwha: ethylene by 30% to 1.4mn t/y and polyethylene by 50% to 1.1mn t/y. (CONTINUED - 658 WORDS)