Though the impact of Saudi Arabia within the American oil market has been diminished over time, their ability to maintain a very clear presence once again came into focus on May 1. That was when Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom’s state-run oil company, finalized an agreement to take complete control of the largest oil refinery in the United States. The original deal had been hashed out in March 2016.
Located in Port Arthur, Texas, the previous pact had split ownership of the refinery between Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell. However, with Shell focusing more on the natural gas market and their need to reduce the debt from their purchase of the BG Group, the decision was made to sell their half to their business partner.
The refinery has the ability to process up to 600,000 barrels of oil per day, with the 24 distribution terminals that are also part of the agreement giving the Saudis a solid infrastructure base to serve one of their major markets. Currently, only Canada supplies more foreign oil to the United States, with this deal also giving Saudi Aramco the exclusive right to sell Shell gas and diesel in five states, most of Florida and in East Texas.
Even though prices continue to stagnate, the American market imported 32 percent more oil from the Saudis last year, which works out to 1.3 million barrels a day. The purchase of the refinery makes it easier to sell more Saudi-based oil, which will help replenish the company’s coffers.
That’s especially important with the long-awaited Saudi Aramco IPO that’s set for next year needing to show increased value for the company. The goal of having that IPO valued at $2 trillion won’t be possible without these types of moves in the months ahead.