UPDATE 1-Qatar Petroleum enlists Chevron for huge petrochemical project

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DOHA, June 24 (Reuters) - Qatar Petroleum signed an agreement with U.S. oil major Chevron on Monday to develop a new petrochemicals complex at Ras Laffan Industrial City.

Chevron will own a 30% stake in the complex, with the rest owned by Qatar Petroleum, the Qatari energy company's chief executive Saad al-Kaabi told a news conference in Doha.

Middle East oil producers are expanding further into petrochemicals, seeking to capture new growth markets and find new sources of income beyond exporting crude oil.

The Saudi Arabian and UAE national oil companies, Saudi Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), have both announced massive plans to boost their refining capacity and petrochemicals business.

Kaabi said the plant, which will start in 2025, will include an ethane cracker with an annual ethylene capacity of about 1.9 million tonnes, making it the Middle East's largest and one of the biggest in the world. The plant will increase Qatar's polyethylene output capacity by 82%, Kaabi added.

Qatar produces about 2,300 tonnes of polyethylene, which is widely used in the packaging industry, a year and the plant will raise its output potential to about 4,300 tonnes.

Kaabi said it was too early to give an estimated cost for the project as the engineering study was not over yet but added that the complex's cost would be in the "billions of dollars".

Feedstock for the complex will be ethane produced primarily from QP's new North Field expansion project, Kaabi said.

Qatar lifted a moratorium on the development of the North Field, the world's biggest natural gas field, which it shares with Iran, in April 2017 and announced a new project to develop its southern section, increasing output in five to seven years. (Reporting by Eric Knecht; writing by Rania El Gamal; editing by Louise Heavens and Alexander Smith)