Saudi Aramco expects the first units at its new 400,000 barrels per day refinery complex in the port city of Jizan to be ready for start-up in 2017, the chief executive of the state-run company said on Wednesday.
The Jizan refinery is part of a $20 billion plan to develop an industrial city in Jizan in southwestern Saudi Arabia, which would also include a 4,000 megawatt (MW) power plant, a commercial port, and a refinery terminal.
“We expect start-up of some of the units, especially utilities, to take place in 2017, but the final completion would be in 2018 so that is the plan now,” Khalid al-Falih told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Jizan.
“Designing is essentially completing … The foundation work is already ongoing by some of the construction contractors.”
The Jizan refinery, valued at $6 billion to $7 billion, is the centrepiece of a wider plan to revive the local economy in one of the poorest regions of the country.
But industry sources said in November that construction of the new refinery had been delayed by a contractual dispute, putting back completion which was originally scheduled for late 2016.
Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said on Wednesday that development of the Jizan Economic City would not be affected by the drop in oil prices.
“The development of Jizan… will continue, it will progress,” Naimi told reporters.
Aramco would also oversee work on building the infrastructure for the city, including a water desalination plant, roads and waterworks.
In Jizan new mining projects are also planned for the production of high-purity silicon, titanium and cast iron.