In pursuit of aligning Saudi Vision 2030 with the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), a new agreement worth $28 billion has recently been signed at a joint investment forum between Saudi Arabia and China.
During the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Beijing at the joint investment forum held by Saudi Arabia’s Investment Agency (SAIG), a total of 35 new agreements have been signed along with four new licenses awarded to Chinese companies, to further enhance the opportunities for collaboration to strengthen the economic ties between the two countries across different fields.
The agreement secured a deal between Aramco and the Chinese conglomerate Norinco worth more than $10 billion to develop a refinery and petrochemical complex in the northeastern Chinese city of Panjin. A new company called Huajin Aramco Petrochemical would also be formed as part of the project. The projected refinery would have a capacity of 300 barrels of oil per day and 1.5 million metric ton per annum ethylene cracker, and will represent the largest Sino-foreign joint venture. The operations are expected to start in 2024, and Aramco will supply up to 70% of the crude feedstock for the complex. This investment is hoped to help Saudi surpass Russia and regain the position as the top oil exporter to China.
Other cooperation agreement signed during the joint investment forum included the focus areas of the Kingdom’s target sectors such as renewable energy, one of the cornerstones of the country's 2030 Vision. Saudi Arabia signed cooperation agreements aimed at improving the field of investment development in wind turbine by manufacturing wind turbine structures, electric control devices and wind generators. The Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s National Energy Administration, which aims at encouraging private sector institutions to invest and build commercial partnerships in the renewable energy sector. The agreement will open up 800 new job opportunities in one of the most targeted sectors of sustainable development.
To diversify Saudi Arabia’s energy mix and to reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on its greenhouse gas emissions the National Renewable Energy Program was implemented. The Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) was established in 2017 to implement the project and create a roadmap to increase the share of the Kingdom’s renewable energy. In addition to the seven projects already launched, REPDO announced that it was planning to launch 12 projects in 2019 with a total capacity of 3.1 GW, and it now aims for an ambitious 27.3 GW of clean energy by 2024.