Saudi Arabia to takeover largest US refinery

By Staff Writer

Mar 22, 2016 02:37 AM EDT

Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil major, has announced its plans to takeover Texas refinery. By taking control over Port Arthur Texas refinery, Saudi Arabia will not only refine its oil in the US, but also sell in the huge North American market.

Texas refinery on sprawling Port Arthur is the largest refinery in the US. The Gulf coast facility has a processing capacity of 600,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). Port Arthur Texas refinery played a major role in reducing America's oil dependency on imports. Aramco controls 261 billion barrels of reserves in Saudi Arabia accounting for 15 percent world's oil production.

CNN Money reports that Saudi Arabia state-owned company Aramco considers Port Arthur Texas refinery a strategic value for it. By acquiring Texas refinery, Saudi Arabia can bring its oil into the US market for refining and selling in North American market. Aramco has already 50 percent stake in the refinery.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, said "Saudi Arabia would have an anchor tenant for much of their crude oil production. Port Arthur is the jewel the Saudis would like."

CNBC further adds that Aramco is in process of acquiring more refining and chemical plants in the US as part of its global expansion plan. Once it parts ways with Royal Dutch Shell, Aramco will speed up its expansion plan. Motiva Enterprises' split will be a first initiative of Aramco before going public. Saudi Arabia in January announced that it would sell shares of Aramco. Motiva will be first asset to be spun off from Aramco.

Worker unrest at Port Arthur in 2015 disrupted production activity to some extent. The US petroleum sector witnessed a nationwide strike over the safety concerns that affected Port Arthur Texas refinery as well. Port Arthur refinery had undergone an extensive five-year makeover plan, which has been completed in 2012. This has increased the refinery's capacity by 100 percent.

Saudi's Aramco and Shell have decided to split assets including US refinery. As part of the latest announcement, Aramco will have total control of Port Arthur Texas refinery, according to US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The joint venture of Aramco and Shell with equal holding was formed in 1998. Aramco will retain Motiva name and total control of Port Arthur Texas refinery. However, both the companies didn't disclose financial details about split exercise, as reported by PennEnergy.

Both the oil majors last week announced a letter of intent to split Motiva Enterprises. Kloza said "It's a very expensive divorce."

Along with Royal Dutch Shell, Aramco has half of the stake in Port Arthur refinery. Aramco owns the stake through its joint venture Motiva Enterprises. Shell and Aramco have a contentious relationship for long time. Aramco wants to process oil shipped from Middle East at Port Arthur refinery, while Shell insists refining oil produced from deep waters of Gulf of Mexico.

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