Saudi Aramco Taps Silicon Valley Startup in Plastics Push

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest oil exporter, struck a deal to use a California startup’s chemical technology in new multi-billion-dollar crude-to-chemical factories.

Saudi Aramco, as the oil giant is known, plans to employ Siluria Technologies Inc.’s process for converting natural gas left over from the crude-refining process into ethylene, the primary building block for plastics, according to a joint announcement by the companies on Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Siluria’s technology, known as oxidative methane coupling, is an alternative to the chemical industry’s traditional high-temperature method of processing gas, called cracking. Closely-held Siluria, which is based in San Francisco and has offices in Menlo Park, California, is headed by former Royal Dutch Shell Plc executive Robert Trout.

“Maximizing the output of high-value chemicals products from our future crude oil processing projects is one of the key objectives in our downstream technology strategy,” Ahmad Al Khowaiter, Aramco’s chief technology officer, said in the statement.

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