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Aramco to Acquire U.S. Largest Refinery, Drifts Away from Asia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco will split up assets of their Motiva joint venture. Reuters

Khobar- At a time when Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s giant oil company, stopped implementing projects for refineries in Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, it is getting close to acquiring the largest refinery in the United States.

Shell Oil Co, the U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said on Monday it expects to divide the refineries and other assets of the Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] joint venture with co-owner Saudi Aramco in the second quarter of 2017.

“We are pleased with the progress we have made to date, and anticipate completion of the transaction in Q2 2017,” Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said in an email.

“The April 1 date is a target that the internal project teams are working toward.”

Shell and Saudi Aramco said in March 2016 they would divide up the 20-year-old joint venture, which operates three refineries, including the United States’ largest, on the Gulf Coast.

Originally, the two companies targeted October 2016 for the split of assets, including pipelines and terminals as well as the refineries.

The major sticking point was Shell’s demand for a $2 billion payment as part of the breakup.

Under the plan for the division of assets, Saudi Aramco will retain the Motiva name and the 603,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, the nation’s largest.

“Saudi Arabia may increase its oil investments in the United States due to a more fossil fuel-oriented energy policy by the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump,” the Kingdom’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid al-Falih said.

Despite the progress achieved by Aramco in the U.S., it withdrew from three projects in Asia in the past three months.

After it gave up on these projects, the company’s choices became more limited as China, India, Turkey and the United States turned to be Aramco’s next targets to expand its refinery projects.

The world’s largest oil company has a strategic, ambitious plan to increase its global refining ability to between 8 and 10 billion barrels per day during the coming 10 years, from the current 5.4 billion barrels per day.