By Ko Dong-hwan
S-Oil is enhancing its technological capabilities in Korea to broaden the spectrum of its petrochemical products while simultaneously elevating their sustainability, according to the refiner, Sunday.
The focal point of this initiative is the Shaheen Project, a groundbreaking plant currently under construction in Ulsan, which represents the largest investment in the history of the petrochemical industry in Korea.
The refiner began construction last March in Ulju County. The company is set to establish the world’s largest steam cracking furnaces, investing 9.26 trillion won ($71.3 billion) in the new plant, with a projected annual production capacity of 1.8 million tons of ethylene. The plant will also have a TC2C (thermal crude to chemical) facility that changes crude oils directly to liquified petroleum gas (LPG), or naphtha, and a polymer complex for manufacturing petrochemical products with high added-value.
Once the plant is completed in mid-2026, S-Oil’s petrochemical output will increase from 12 to 25 percent, further broadening its refinery portfolio by reducing the reliance on fuels.
Shaheen Project is the biggest investment to be made in Korea by Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil firm Aramco. In addition to the 4.8 trillion won Aramco invested in 2018 for the first phase of the project, the total investment reaches 14 trillion won.
The plant construction has already generated an economic boom in the country’s southeastern port city by creating jobs. S-Oil said up to 17,000 people will be employed at the site each day during the construction. The completed plant will also hire at least 400 local employees for plant operation and generate an economic value of 3 trillion won.
“The completed plant will radically boost the stability of petrochemical materials supply and more than double the mass production of ethylene in Ulsan,” said an official from the company.
Meanwhile, S-Oil last month celebrated its new technological service and development (TS&D) center in western Seoul. It is dedicated to developing petrochemical and lubricant products with high added-value, as well as new technologies for new low-carbon energy fields.
“With intensifying global environmental regulations and rising demands from consumers for high-quality, eco-friendly products, the new TS&D center will propose ways to minimize our negative impact on consumers and local environments,” said Anwar A. Al-Hejazi, the company’s CEO. “The center will be S-Oil’s hub of creative technological competitiveness.”
The center is responsible for finding the most effective means of manufacturing olefins downstream, which will be carried out by the company’s new Ulsan plant. The center will also research other technologies for using new energy sources like hydrogen, ammonia and biofuels.
In 2021, the center developed two new polypropylene products and 28 new lubricant products, while 18 were registered for patents. With Hyundai Motor Group, it also jointly developed new long-lasting engine oils for gasoline and diesel engines.