Saudi government agency announces new petrochemical investment deals worth over $2bln

At least 80 representatives met at the Invest Saudi gathering in Riyadh

Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Abdullatif A. Al-Othman speaks during the opening ceremony of the Euromoney Conference in Riyadh May 7, 2013. REUTERS/ Faisal Al Nasser . Image used for illustrative purpose.

Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Abdullatif A. Al-Othman speaks during the opening ceremony of the Euromoney Conference in Riyadh May 7, 2013. REUTERS/ Faisal Al Nasser . Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/ Faisal Al Nasser

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) on Thursday announced a raft of new petrochemical investments worth more than $2 billion (SR7.5 billion).

At least 80 representatives of more than 13 government and private-sector entities from the Kingdom and throughout the world met at the Invest Saudi gathering in Riyadh to sign the agreements.

Among memorandums of understanding (MoUs) inked at the meeting, organized by SAGIA, was an accord between the authority and German chemical company, BASF, aimed at evaluating and assessing opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

SAGIA and global leader in the manufacturing of polyacrylamides, SNF, agreed to look into the establishment of a polyacrylamide plant with a capacity of 50,000 tons per annum, in the Eastern Province city of Jubail, offering the prospect of creating 80 new jobs.

An MoU was also penned between the Saudi government agency and Japanese firm Mitsui & Co., aimed at setting up an ammonia commercial production project in Jubail with an estimated capacity of 1 million tons per annum, using a highly efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing process.

In addition, SAGIA and Mitsui & Co. agreed to work together to develop a specialty chemicals downstream opportunity.

A fourth MoU was signed between SAGIA and global energy and petrochemicals group, Shell, to evaluate the building of a state-of-the-art residue upgrading catalyst manufacturing facility in Jubail Industrial City, subject to regulatory approvals.

AMG and Shell struck an agreement to assess the feasibility of building a facility to reclaim valuable metals by recycling spent residue upgrading catalysts generated by refineries in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region. The proposed facility would help maximize the benefits from the Kingdom’s natural resources while addressing the need to provide environmentally responsible management of spent residue upgrading catalysts.

Speaking at the meeting, SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar, said: “Our country is undergoing a significant economic transformation. The petrochemicals sector provides exciting opportunities for international investors as we look to draw on the expertise and experience of the private sector in transforming the industry.

“This meeting and the MoUs that have been exchanged, reflect our increasing focus on promoting opportunities and facilitating international partnerships to drive the growth of this strategic sector.

“We are very pleased to welcome these industry giants to Saudi Arabia as we build the future of the petrochemicals sector in the Kingdom,” he added.

Pascal Remy, CEO of SNF, said: “As part of its global strategy, SNF is investigating the prospects of implantation in the Jubail industrial complex. On a medium-term, this strategic location will host the production of some critical raw material in the synthesis of polyacrylamide, such as acrylonitrile, according to the recent announcement of Ineos (multinational chemicals company), and will also bring SNF closer to the growing market of shale gas in Saudi Arabia.”

Tatsuo Yasunaga, president and CEO of Mitsui & Co., said: “Mitsui aims to realize an ammonia production project in Jubail, using a highly efficient and environment-friendly manufacturing technology and concept, which may include carbon capture and storage.”

President of Shell Catalysts and Technologies, Andy Gosse, said: “This agreement with SAGIA and AMG reflects Shell’s interest in growing its presence in Saudi Arabia and serving its clients locally and regionally through a world-class end-to-end business solution utilizing our extensive expertise in catalyst technologies.”

He noted that new global fuel regulations, combined with the growing trend of crude oil to chemicals production, are leading refiners to develop sustainable waste-management plans for their spent catalyst.

“We look to have meaningful opportunities to build strong relationships with local and international participants,” added Gosse.

Heinz Schimmelbusch, chairman and CEO of AMG, said: “AMG is excited to provide cutting-edge recycling technologies for treating refinery waste in the Kingdom. The recycling process allows the extraction of metals such as vanadium from spent catalysts providing ferrovanadium alloys for the domestic production of high-strength steel.”

The latest agreements build on the positive momentum that Saudi Arabia has seen this year in terms of inward investment.

According to Invest Saudi’s Fall 2019 Investment Highlights report, more than 250 overseas businesses had been granted investor licenses by the third quarter of this year, marking a 30 percent increase on the same period for 2018, said SAGIA.

A total of 809 new foreign companies had established operations in the Kingdom, 67 percent of which were for fully foreign ownership investments. This represented the highest number of foreign investor licenses issued by SAGIA since 2010.

Alongside a broad series of economic reforms, the investments are enabling rapid growth in foreign investment in Saudi Arabia.

According to the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia had moved up three positions to 36th as a result of efforts to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.

Earlier this month, the country climbed 30 places to 62nd in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report, becoming the most improved economy globally.

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