As the construction phase of the massive joint venture project Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP) draws to a close, the chief executive officers of Saudi Aramco and Total met in Jubail April 8 to tour the project and receive updates on the remaining steps to be completed, before SATORP becomes fully operational toward the end of 2013.

Ninety-seven percent of construction at SATORP’s massive fuel and petrochemical refinery in Jubail Industrial City is complete, said Mohammed J. Al-Hammad, SATORP’s executive director of the project. George Moreno, SATORP’s vice president for manufacturing, added that SATORP’s first exports of fuel oil could begin as soon as August 2013, with all units in operation by November.

“This is the home stretch,” said Samir Al-Tubayyeb, chairman of the board for SATORP and Saudi Aramco vice president for engineering services. “We’ve started the utilities and the construction is almost finished. We will continue the start sequence.”

The SATORP story is about the alignment of two major oil companies that combined their differing skills in a rapidly changing market to create a brand new company from the ground up. The initial stages of the project started in 2006, with construction commencing in 2010. SATORP has become the anchor for development in Jubail.

Not only will the refinery process 400,000 barrels per day of Arabian Heavy crude oil into high-quality fuels, it will also produce petrochemicals that can be feedstock for small- and medium-sized manufacturing businesses. These firms will manufacture products which range from packaging materials to automobile parts and are expected to add value, as well as create thousands of new jobs within the Kingdom.

After the tour, Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih said that building a company from the ground up takes vision, planning, dedication and execution. The company’s experience with Total, thus far, has prompted the two companies to consider continuing and expanding their partnership.

“This is the largest joint venture that we have undertaken, although it is not the first,” said Al-Falih. “Our strategy is to increase our footprint around the world. Total has shared our vision. Total is very bold, very daring, and when they make a commitment, they stick to that commitment. I think that we have proven that we have a great future working together.”

PHOTO: Khalid A. Al-Falih, center, and Christophe de Margerie, far left, tour the nearly complete SATORP project in Jubail.

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