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Aramco rethinks downstream priorities

Riyadh's stuttering attempt to attract international investors to state oil firm Saudi Aramco's chimeric initial public offering (IPO) is forcing a re-evaluation of downstream projects

A declaration of intent some three years ago by state oil giant Saudi Aramco to nearly double global refining capacity to 8-10mn bl/d over the following decade was swiftly followed by agreements to invest in a raft of international downstream ventures, primarily in Asia.  At home, an ambition to convert an ever-higher proportion of the company’s oil into value-adding petrochemicals was enshrined in plans for a landmark plant in Yanbu, on the west coast, processing crude directly into chemicals in joint venture (JV) with soon-to-be subsidiary Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic).  However, as the oil firm and its heavyweight banking advisory team courted investors anew during the four

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