Saudi Aramco’s South Korea-based affiliate S-OIL plans to invest $7bn to build one of the world’s largest refinery-integrated petrochemical steam crackers in Ulsan, South Korea.

To be built at S-Oil’s existing site in Ulsan, the Shaheen project will have the capacity to produce approximately 3.2 million tonnes per year of petrochemical products.

The project will be equipped to convert crude oil into petrochemical feedstock. It will also have a facility to produce ‘high-value’ polymers.

The steam cracker will have the capacity to process by-products from crude processing to produce ethylene.

Construction on the petrochemical cracker is planned to start in 2023 and be completed by 2026.

The proposed plant will also produce butadiene, propylene, and other basic chemicals.

Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said: “The global petrochemical landscape is rapidly evolving, with demand growth anticipated to accelerate, driven in part by rising consumption from Asia’s emerging economies. That is why S-Oil’s Shaheen is well-positioned to meet the rising demand for the materials that will be required across the region’s key industries.

“By further integrating refining and chemical processes through the first commercialisation of Aramco’s thermal crude to chemicals technology, we aim to create a more efficient, competitive, and sustainable platform for growth while paving the way for further downstream expansion.”

Aramco said that the investment in South Korea forms part of its plan to maximise the crude to the chemicals value chain.

Through its Aramco Overseas Company BV subsidiary, Aramco owns a more than 63% stake in S-OIL.