China Petrochemical Corp and China National Petroleum Corp are in negotiations aimed at setting up a US$5 billion ethylene plant in the Middle East, the South China Morning Post reported. A spokesman for Sinopec, China Petrochemical’s Hong Kong-listed unit, confirmed that the company has held talks with state-owned oil firms in the Middle East concerning refining and chemical joint ventures. Kuwait Petroleum, Saudi Basic Industries and Saudi Arabian Oil, the world’s largest oil company by production and reserves, are thought to be potential partners in the development. China hopes to have a joint venture plan finalized by the end of this year or early next year. It would be the country’s first ethylene joint venture in the Middle East. Ethylene is obtained from petroleum and natural gas and is used to make rubber and plastics.