Saudi Bid For Houston Oil Refinery Comes Amid Growing Tensions
HOUSTON — The Saudi national oil company is making a bid to significantly develop its operations in the United States at a critical second within the always uneasy relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The corporate, Saudi Aramco, goals to strengthen its place on the Gulf of Mexico coast by shopping for a big oil refinery within the Houston Ship Channel that LyondellBasell is placing up on the market.
And despite geopolitical tensions between Riyadh and Washington, Saudi Aramco sees the potential acquisition as a approach to shore up its exports at a time of erosion in the oil enterprise on which the Saudi financial system remains to be largely reliant.
Due to plunging costs, the value of Saudi oil sales has shrunk lately. And Saudi Arabia’s archrival, Iran, is turning into a more potent business competitor now that it’s exporting substantial quantities of crude.
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4 years ago, Saudi Aramco completed a $10 billion enlargement of a giant oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, in a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell known as Motiva Enterprises. The transformed plant is now the largest producer of gasoline, diesel and other petroleum merchandise in the United States.
This time, Saudi Aramco wants to do a deal on its own. However its negotiations with LyondellBasell, a Dutch firm, come as Congress is moving to permit households of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults to sue Saudi Arabia for supposed ties between authorities officials and the terrorists, most of whom have been Saudi citizens. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the measure, though an override is feasible.
Saudi officials have denied any function in the assaults and have threatened to promote $750 billion in U.S. property, together with Treasury securities, held by the Saudi authorities, if the congressional measure moves forward.
But energy specialists say the quiet bid by Saudi Aramco is designed to additional protect its share of the U.S. oil market, at the same time as Washington and U.S. oil corporations continue efforts to wean the nation off overseas oil.
Saudi Aramco didn’t reply to questions in regards to the bidding. A spokeswoman for LyondellBasell said she had no comment.
Saudi Aramco is in competition for the Lyondell refinery with Texas-based Valero, in addition to two big Canadian companies, Suncor and Cenovus.
Vitality experts who’ve been briefed on the negotiations say that Saudi Aramco is a number one contender and that the price for the refinery may very well be as a lot as $1.5 billion.
The Lyondell plant has a capability to refine practically 270,000 barrels a day of crude, which may increase Saudi Aramco’s capacity to refine its oil on the Gulf Coast by about 50 %. The refinery produces not solely gasoline and different fuels, but in addition also can produce feedstocks for petrochemical production.
Imports of Saudi crude have been dropping in recent times, from 1.8 million barrels a day in 2003 to 1.1 million barrels a day this year, largely due to the shale drilling growth in Texas and North Dakota.
“It appears like they are doubling down on their U.S. relationship,” said David chemicals in water bottles L. Goldwyn, who was the State Division coordinator for international energy affairs in the first Obama administration.
“It makes economic sense,” Goldwyn mentioned, “because they want to be a world petrochemical power. And it makes political sense because they see a long-term relationship with the U.S. because the type of strategic assurance they are going to be seeking from the next administration.”
The Saudi effort is a part of an initiative to expand its refining empire as a manner to protect its share of the worldwide market.
Saudi Aramco is also negotiating with CNPC, the Chinese language state oil firm, for the joint building of a large refinery in southwestern Yunnan province. It has investments in different refineries in Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia.
The trouble to focus more monetary firepower on international refineries can also be half of a bigger technique to diversify investments in areas aside from drilling for crude oil on the Arabian Peninsula.
A public offering of not less than some refineries is being thought of to bolster Saudi Aramco’s financial position, whilst the corporate is making a concerted effort to expand manufacturing of refined merchandise, including gasoline and diesel.
The Lyondell refinery, one of the largest in the United States, is designed to process low-high quality, excessive-sulfur crude. Lately, it has largely processed Mexican crude and Canadian heavy oil from oil sands, but it may just as easily process low-grade Saudi crude that refineries in Europe and Asia are usually not designed chemicals in water bottles to refine.