Saudi Arabia’s Aramco has considered the possibility of shipping U.S. crude via its Motiva unit to Asia, a source in the know has told Bloomberg. The company decided that for the time being, the option is economically unviable, but could reconsider its viability in the future.
Two sources from Asian refiners said that Aramco had talked with them about their interest in U.S. crude shipments, indicating the Saudi oil company was considering ways of getting in on the shale oil boom that is increasingly being referred to as a second shale revolution.
Aramco’s Motiva operates the biggest oil refinery in the United States, in Port Arthur, with a capacity of over 600,000 bpd. It is through this business that it would ship U.S. crude should it decide to do so. Yet earlier this week, Bloomberg notes, West Texas Intermediate rose above the Dubai benchmark for the first time in more than a year, which may have led to Aramco dropping its plans for shipping U.S. crude to Asia.
Trading in non-Saudi crude is part of Aramco’s expansion plans ahead of its initial public offering, scheduled for the second half of this year. There is no reason why U.S. crude should not be included in these plans, especially as rising U.S. shale production has asserted itself as the biggest threat to OPEC producers in general. Related: Surprise Crude Draw Lifts Hope For Oil Market
Saudi Arabia has felt the sting deeper than others as it has cut more of its oil production than it had agreed to, in order to make up for laggards such as Iraq. Trading in U.S. oil with Asian refiners would be a way for Aramco to recoup some of the losses it has suffered as a result of its lowered production.
Last month, as part of this trading expansion strategy, Aramco began swapping Saudi crude for oil products made in other countries, Bloomberg reported in late January. The company’s CEO of Aramco’s trading arm told the news provider that Aramco had been supplying crude oil to refineries in the Mediterranean—where there is a lot of spare refining capacity—and in exchange was getting finished products to sell on.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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