* Trial runs at Fujian refinery started
* Whole complex in full operations in second half 2009 (Adds background on demand, inventories)
BEIJING, May 19 (Reuters) - A joint venture between Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), Saudi Aramco and China’s Sinopec Corp (0386.HK), said on Tuesday it had started trial runs at its new Fujian refinery on China’s southeastern coast.
The whole complex, which includes a 240,000-barrel-per-day refinery and an 800,000-tonne-per-year ethylene complex, will enter full operations in the second half of 2009, it said.
An industry source told Reuters earlier this month that the refinery, expanded from an 80,000 bpd plant, started pumping crude into the new 160,000-bpd crude processing unit in late April and could enter normal operations as early as July. The start-up of the new refinery comes at a time when Chinese fuel demand appears to be improving as brimming inventories have thinned and state oil firms have replenished stocks by raising April’s crude imports to their second-highest on record on a daily rate.
The $5 billion venture is 50 percent owned by top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp and 25 percent each by Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco. The Saudi state oil firm will supply crude to the plant.
Reporting by Chen Aizhu, Editing by Jacqueline Wong0