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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and…

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Aramco Bets Big On Refining Despite Challenges

Despite strained U.S.-Saudi relations on several fronts, Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco continues to see the U.S. market as strategic and continues with plans to expand the biggest U.S. refinery with a petrochemical complex, Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, senior vice president of Downstream at Aramco, told S&P Global Platts in an interview published on Monday.

The largest U.S. refinery and the largest refinery in North America is the 630,000-bpd Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, controlled by Saudi Aramco.

Motiva Enterprises plans to invest US$6.6 billion to expand the Port Arthur refinery into making chemicals, and another US$1.9 billion in a complex in Texas to produce benzene and paraxylene, Houston Chronicle reported in December.

“Our investment in Motiva, after the separation from Shell, and adding the chemical expansion will testify to the fact that we look at the US as a market that is growing, is very profitable and has great upside,” Al-Judaimi told Platts, noting that Aramco targets commissioning of the facilities in late 2022 or in 2023. 

Despite the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the revived NOPEC draft legislation that could potentially allow the U.S. to sue OPEC members for antitrust violations, the United States remains a key market for Saudi Aramco.

According to Al-Judaimi, the Saudi oil giant aims to boost its refining capacity in the U.S. to 1 million bpd-1.5 million bpd, although he declined to tell Platts specifics of any projects or acquisitions.

Saudi Aramco has an ambitious plan to double its refining capacity and is heavily investing in refining and chemicals worldwide in pursuit of securing more downstream markets for its crude oil, Al-Judaimi said in the middle of 2018.

Earlier this year, Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser told Reuters in an interview that the oil firm was looking to spend billions of U.S. dollars on natural gas acquisitions in the United States as part of Aramco’s strategy to bolster its gas business and become a global natural gas player.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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