Ineos billionaire Jim Ratcliffe in $2bn Saudi investment

Jim Ratcliffe

UK energy firm Ineos is to invest $2bn (£1.6bn) in building its first ever manufacturing plants in Saudi Arabia.

It follows an agreement with the Kingdom’s state oil company Saudi Aramco and French energy firm Total.

Ineos said the facilities would produce chemicals for sectors such as automotive, aerospace and electronics.

Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is Britain’s third richest man, called it “a major milestone that marks our first investment in the Middle East”.

“We are bringing advanced downstream technology which will add value and create further jobs in The Kingdom.”

Under the deal, Ineos will develop three chemical plants at Jubail 2, a $5bn petrochemicals complex run by Saudi Aramco and Total.

It said the plants, which will begin production in 2025, would give it better access to markets in the Middle East and Asia.

It follows its recent investments by the company in Belgium, China and the US.

Ineos has also been holding exploratory fracking tests in Britain, but recently complained that tough regulations were making it unviable for firms.

Sir Jim argued ministers had given in to a “vocal” minority of environmental campaigners, despite fracking being “extremely safe and well proven”.