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Saudi Aramco makes $7 billion investment in South Korea during crown prince’s visit

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to boost energy, defense and investment cooperation with Seoul during his trip.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) speaks with South Korean President Moon Jae-In (not pictured) during a meeting at the Presidential Blue House, Seoul, South Korea, June 26, 2019.

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company announced a major investment in South Korea today during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit. 

Aramco will invest $7 billion in a petrochemical “steam cracker” in the east Asian country. The investment, which is named the Shaheen project, is Aramco’s largest-ever in South Korea. The project will be located at an existing site belonging to the South Korean energy company S-Oil, according to a press release. 

What it means: A steam cracker is a petrochemical facility that breaks hydrocarbons down into lighter ones, such as ethylene, which is used to make many everyday items. The Aramco-funded steam cracker in South Korea will produce ethylene, as well as propylene, butadiene and other chemicals. 

Why it matters: The announcement came during Prince Mohammed’s official visit to South Korea. Yesterday, the prince, aka MBS, met with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo to discuss boosting Saudi-Korean cooperation. Mohammed brought numerous defense, investment and other officials to the meeting, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. 

Today, he met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol. The prince also held meetings with numerous South Korean companies. MBS discussed investment opportunities with the companies regarding energy, technology, industry, construction and smart cities, according to the agency. 

Saudi Arabia and Aramco’s interest in South Korea is not new. In January, Aramco signed several agreements with South Korean energy and industrial companies. 

Know more: The South Korean newspaper Korea JoongAng Daily reported earlier this week that South Korea is interested in building a nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia. 

What’s next: Aramco’s stream cracker is expected to start construction next year and finish by 2026. 

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