Aramco Subsidiary S-OIL to Build One of World’s Largest Petrochemical Crackers in South Korea



  • Aramco’s largest-ever investment in South Korea contributes to stable raw material supply
  • First commercial deployment of Aramco’s thermal crude oil TC2C™ technology developed in collaboration with Lummus Technology
  • S-OIL’s chemical yield based on volume is expected to nearly double to 25% upon project completion

Aramco is making its largest-ever investment in South Korea to develop one of the world’s largest refinery-integrated petrochemical steam crackers through its subsidiary S-OIL, in line with the company’s strategy to maximize the value chain from crude to chemicals.

The $7 billion Shaheen project aims to convert crude oil into petrochemical feedstock and would represent the first commercialization of Aramco and Lummus Technology’s TC2C thermal crude oil technology into chemicals, which increases chemical yield and reduces costs operating. It follows an earlier investment of $4 billion in the first phase of the petrochemical expansion completed in 2018.

Located at S-Oil’s existing site in Ulsan, the new plant is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 3.2 million tonnes of petrochemicals per year and include a high-value polymer production facility. The project is expected to start in 2023 and end in 2026.

The steam cracker is expected to process crude processing byproducts, including naphtha and off-gases, to produce ethylene, a petrochemical element used to make thousands of everyday items. The plant is also expected to produce propylene, butadiene and other basic chemicals.

Aramco Chairman and CEO Amin H. Nasser said“The global petrochemical landscape is changing rapidly and demand growth is expected to accelerate, driven in part by rising consumption from emerging economies in Asia. That’s why S-Oil’s Shaheen is well positioned to meet the growing demand for materials that will be needed in key industries in the region. By further integrating refining and chemistry processes through the first commercialization of Aramco’s thermal crude oil technology in chemicals, we aim to create a more efficient, competitive and sustainable platform for growth, while opening the way for downstream expansion.

Aramco Senior Vice President, Downstream, Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, said“Shaheen aspires to be a game changer not only for S-OIL in South Korea, but also for our global chemical business, allowing us to process a wider range of raw materials more efficiently and with less energy. The project represents the first large-scale deployment of Aramco’s chemical-to-thermal crude technology and shows how, through better design, we can help transition to more efficient and sustainable production processes.

The new steam cracker is expected to use mixed feedstocks, surpassing naphtha-based crackers in overall efficiency and performance. Upon project completion, S-OIL’s chemical yield based on volume could nearly double to 25%, demonstrating the impact of this advanced technology, complementing Aramco’s strategy to expand its chemical liquids up to 4 million barrels per day.

Aramco is the majority shareholder of S-OIL, holding more than 63% of the company’s shares through its subsidiary Aramco Overseas Company BV.

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