State-owned firm Saudi Aramco has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) to build a $20bn fully integrated crude oil to chemicals (COTC) complex in the country.

Expected to process 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil, the COTC complex will be equipped to produce approximately 9 million tons of chemicals and base oils annually.

The facility, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2025, is expected to be the largest crude oil to chemicals complex in the world.

Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser said: “This project converges the commercial and strategic interests of both Saudi Aramco and SABIC, while reinforcing Saudi Aramco’s efforts to optimize the investment of our petroleum resources.”

Saudi Aramco expects the complex to expand its downstream portfolio, secure new commercial opportunities and reduce focus on the transportation sector.

The two companies are planning to equally share the investment costs in the project, which is expected to help reduce the country’s reliance on crude.

SABIC vice-chairman and CEO Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan said: "This venture will contribute to the realization of one of the major aspirations of Saudi Vision 2030, namely achieving economic prosperity by boosting our investment capacity, diversifying the economy and creating jobs for Saudi nationals.

“It will help strengthen our economic growth and attract world-class quality investments thanks to our unique and strategic geographic location."

Featuring innovative COTC configuration, the COTC complex is expected to create 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and will receive investments from both companies equally.

According to Aramco, the complex would have 1.5% impact on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.

Following the signing of MoU, Nasser said a final decision on whether to proceed with the project would be made by the end of 2019, Reuters reported.

In June 2016, SABIC and Aramco signed a heads of agreement (HoA) to undertake feasibility study for the proposed development of a fully integrated petrochemicals complex in Saudi Arabia.

Image: Officials from Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC). Photo: courtesy of Saudi Arabian Oil Co.