China launches major Saudi refinery project

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Chinese President Xi Jinping was on hand for the Feb. 16 launch ceremony for China’s largest investment project in Saudi Arabia, the Yasref oil refinery.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud inaugurate the operation of the Yasref oil refinery, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and China's Sinopec in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 20, 2016. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman inaugurate the operation of the Yasref oil refinery.  /Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng

Xi told reporters the refinery, which covers more than 5 million square meters in the city of Yanbu on Saudi’s west coast, conforms to the Saudi national development strategy and to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Chinese president and Saudi King Salman remotely inaugurated the refinery in a ceremony at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh. The Yasref oil refinery is a $10 billion joint venture between Saudi Aramco and China’s Sinopec.

Yasref is the first overseas refinery Sinopec has built. Aramco holds 62.5 percent of the stake while Sinopec holds 37.5 percent.

While in Saudi, Xi also met with the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and said China is ready to engage in comprehensive energy cooperation with GCC’s six member states, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE.

Trade between Saudi Arabia, which is China’s biggest foreign supplier of crude oil, reached $69.1 billion dollars in 2014, increasing by 230 times over that of 1990, when the two countries first established diplomatic ties.

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