The inauguration ceremony of YASREF, which has a refining capacity of 400,000 barrels per day, took place in Riyadh in conjunction with President Xi Jinping's official visit to the Kingdom.
In a unique expression of solidarity and mutual cooperation, a Chinese engineer at YASREF welcomed King Salman in Arabic while a Saudi engineer welcomed President Xi in Chinese. Later the King and the Chinese president jointly pressed a button marking the formal opening of the refinery.
Though formally inaugurated on Wednesday, YASREF which was established on Jan. 14, 2012, came on stream in 2014 and shipped its first consignment of 300,000 barrels of clean diesel in January 2015.
YASREF is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, which holds a 62.5 percent share, and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation ("Sinopec"), which holds a 37.5 percent share. YASREF represents both companies' focus on driving downstream growth across the entire hydrocarbon chain.
On the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony, the YASREF joint venture partners -- 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 key areas including oil and gas services, refinery, chemicals, crude oil supply, sales, petroleum services, petrochemical services, technology development and promotion, and new energy.
Amin H. Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, said: "YASREF is a win-win partnership with Sinopec and a key element of Saudi Aramco's strategy of driving value across the hydrocarbons value-chain to maintain our position as the world's most reliable energy supplier.
"YASREF converts Arabian heavy crude oil into high-value products for international markets. The facility, which embeds world-class technical standards, increases Saudi Aramco refining capacity and is an important step in our strategy to become the world's leading integrated energy enterprise.
"Today's inauguration and cooperation agreement signing reflect shared confidence in our long-term partnership with Sinopec and in the potential opportunities we can create together through deeper, long-term collaboration."
Dr. Wang Yupu, Sinopec chairman, said: "The inauguration of YASREF is a great achievement for Sinopec and Saudi Aramco. As a result of our newly signed agreement, Sinopec will further strengthen its relationship with Saudi Aramco through exploring new opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
"Sinopec will leverage its strengths in refinery and chemical technology to support Saudi Arabia's strategic decision to transform the oil industry from upstream focused to providing value across the entire supply chain."
Mohammad S. Alshammari, YASREF president & CEO, said: "The official inauguration of YASREF marks a proud accomplishment for YASREF, Saudi Aramco and Sinopec. YASREF is a global refinery leader that is helping global customers to meet their energy demands."
Sinopec is now Saudi Aramco's largest crude oil trading partner and onshore drilling service provider. 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.
Later Khalid Al-Falih, chairman of the board of directors of Saudi Aramco, presented a memento to the visiting Chinese president.
Amin H. Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, said: "Energy is the main pillar of Saudi Arabia's economy and the cornerstone of development and prosperity of economies around the world. With the increased complexity of global energy, it is important to continuously expand the boundaries of knowledge through collaboration and research.
"Saudi Aramco is honored to have helped establish KAPSARC which is a state of the art research center that brings together the brightest people from Saudi Arabia and around the world to tackle energy challenges. The Centre is characterized by its innovative design that integrates the highest standards of environmental conservation and Saudi Aramco will continue to support KAPSARC to achieve its mission and goals."
Samer Al-Ashgar, president of KAPSARC, said: "KAPSARC is all about improving the welfare of societies through a better understanding of the value that energy provides. We aim to develop frameworks for sustainable, value-added energy production and consumption in Saudi Arabia and around the world. Our mission proudly reflects the late King Abdullah's vision, as we seek to make Saudi Arabia a leading source of energy insight in global discussions."
In 2015, KAPSARC moved to its Riyadh headquarters, constructed by Saudi Aramco and designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid. The Center now comprises a diverse team of over 15 nationalities. The Center has established a global footprint of collaborative partnerships, including institutions from China, India, Japan, East Africa, Europe and the Americas.
© The Saudi Gazette 2016