Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fort McMurray of the Middle East

by David Ebner from The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Petro Rabigh, a 50-50 joint venture between Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Aramco) and Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd. of Japan, has an astounding 38,000 workers on the site. Yet the project has been several thousand workers short for more than a year and the cost of employing them, even at the relatively low wage rates here, is rising. But in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the 15 million or so nationals don't dirty their hands in matters such as actually building major industrial projects. All of the 38,000 workers on the job are foreign, many from India, Pakistan and China, and all of the technology employed is foreign. The only stamp of Saudi Arabia on Petro Rabigh is senior management and the billions of dollars in oil money to build it. Still, it marks an advance for Saudi Arabia. its massive economies of scale with the existing and connected 400,000-barrel-a-day refinery and its central location to ship products worldwide, Petro Rabigh looks like it will instantly be a significant player in Saudi Arabia's first foray into a new international market.

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