Saudi Aramco in advanced talks to buy China refinery stakes, chairman says

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Saudi Aramco is in advanced talks to invest in refineries in China and the company was also in talks with CNPC and Sinopec for investment opportunities in refining, marketing and petrochemicals, the chairman of the state oil company said.

Saudi Aramco Chairman Khalid al-Falih also told reporters on the sidelines of the official inauguration of Yasref, a 400,000 barrels per day oil refinery, that there may be opportunities for further expansion of the plant.

The refinery, which began operations at full capacity in July, is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil company, and China's Sinopec.

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"Yes we are in talks with CNPC and Sinopec to enter investment opportunities in China. There are many refineries inside China in advanced stages to negotiate for them," Falih said.

"Aramco would like to invest more in China ... We look forward to have other projects with Sinopec in China specifically, so that Aramco expands in its investments in refining, marketing and petrochemicals in China," he said.

Aramco and Sinopec on Tuesday signed a framework agreement for strategic cooperation. The agreement was one of 14 deals and memoranda of understanding signed between Saudi Arabia and China on the first day of a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Riyadh.

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Aramco had been in talks to acquire a stake in a CNPC refinery and retail assets, people familiar with the matter said last October - a deal that would help it sell more of its output to China amid growing competition.

The deal is estimated to be worth around $1 - $1.5 billion, although final valuations, assets and stakes were subject to change, they said.

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