Saudi, Foreign Firms Sign MoU for New Shipbuilding Complex


RIYADH, Jan 26 (Reuters) - National oil giant Saudi Aramco has signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a shipbuilding and repair complex in the kingdom, part of Saudi Arabia's efforts to diversify its economy beyond oil, the company said on Tuesday.

Pressured by low oil prices, Riyadh is laying plans to develop non-oil industries, using state spending to jump-start the process. The shipbuilding complex is one of the first big projects to be announced under this policy.

The MoU was signed with National Shipping Co of Saudi Arabia (Bahri), a state-controlled firm which ships oil for Aramco, as well as a subsidiary of London-listed Lamprell Plc , a United Arab Emirates-based engineering firm, and South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd.

The companies will study a proposal over the next few months to build a maritime complex offering engineering, manufacturing and repair services for offshore rigs, commercial vessels and offshore service vessels, Aramco said.

Aramco did not give a value for the project, but chairman Khalid al-Falih told a business conference on Monday that it was expected to be located on Saudi Arabia's east coast and could eventually create 500,000 jobs.

The complex will initially support Aramco's operations but will ultimately move on to other markets, such as manufacturing container vessels, Falih said.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Anand Basu)


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