Kuwait to pick partner for China refinery this year

Reuters, Sunday 13 Mar 2011

Kuwait Petroleum International is expected to choose a foreign partner within six months for a $9 billion oil refining and petrochemical joint venture with Sinopec, the company's chairman said in published remarks on Sunday.

Last week, China approved the $9 billion joint venture, which will be built in the southern coastal city of Zhanjiang.

"The company is currently studying several offers for international companies to join as a strategic partner," said Hussein Ismail to Arabic language newspaper al-Rai.

The project will secure Kuwait, the world's fourth-largest crude exporter, a solid outlet for its oil, ahead of competing investors such as Venezuela, Russia and Qatar, all of which are planning refineries in China.

Kuwait aims to more than double its crude exports to China to 500,000 barrels per day, versus last year's sales at just under 200,000 bpd.

State-run Kuwait Petroleum Corp in 2009 briefly tapped potential investors Shell and Dow Chemical Co , but the companies did not make any commitment for a consortium.

Ismail said KPI will start preparing designs for the refinery units and the petrochemicals complex which are expected to cost up to $500 million.

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