Exclusive: After Motiva split, Saudi Aramco aims to buy more U.S. refineries - sources

Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:52pm EDT
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By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's national oil company wants to buy more U.S. refining and chemical plants to expand its footprint in the world's largest energy market once the break-up of its joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell Plc is complete, sources said.

Ending an often rocky nearly 20-year relationship, Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) and Saudi Aramco [SDABO.UL] announced on Wednesday plans to break up Motiva Enterprises LLC [MOTIV.UL] after almost two decades, dividing its assets and leaving Aramco with one plant, the nation's largest crude oil refinery, in Port Arthur, Texas.

Officials from Saudi Refining, the downstream arm of Aramco, told employees following the announcement that the state-owned firm was intent on buying more assets once the Motiva break-up is finished, according to five people who attended the briefing and asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The officials did not identify possible acquisition targets, the sources said.

An Aramco representative was not immediately available to discuss the company's plans.

A Shell spokeswoman directed questions to Aramco.

The plan comes as Aramco considers a landmark public offering of its vast downstream operations, which amount to nearly 5.5 million bpd of solely or jointly owned refining capacity around the world.

It also underscores the company's desire to expand its footprint in major markets, helping guarantee demand for its crude oil exports amid intensifying global competition.   Continued...

An oil tank is seen at the Saudi Aramco headquarters during a media tour at Damam city November 11, 2007.   REUTERS/ Ali Jarekji   (SAUDI ARABIA)