Saudi Aramco will not expand US oil refinery

07 June 2018
Aramco subsidiary Motiva is looking to increase its petrochemicals footprint in the US

Saudi Aramco will not expand its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, which is controlled by its wholly-owned subsidiary Motiva Enterprises, the company says.

Motiva does intend to increase its footprint in North America by owning additional refinery assets, but will not expand the refining capacity at the Port Arthur refinery, the largest in the US, which has a current output of 603,000 barrels a-day (b/d), according to a company representative.

Motiva’s CEO Brian Coffman said in April that it was considering boosting the refinery’s capacity to up to 1.5 million b/d, which would make it the largest in the world.

Motiva is continuing its first step toward expansion into petrochemicals in North America and is expected to make final investment decisions in 2019 on other possible projects along the Gulf of Mexico coast.

In April, Motiva announced it had signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with France’s TechnipFMC and US’ Honeywell UOP. The MoUs relate to the study of petrochemical production technology for use in a new chemical plant Motiva plans to build at the refinery complex in Port Arthur.

The Port Arthur refinery became Motiva’s only refining asset after the dissolution of the Saudi Aramco and Shell joint venture, and officials have been assessing increasing refining capacity since that time and “considering many options and locations,” according to Motiva’s statement.

“Hurricane Harvey’s timing and our decision to focus on locations outside of Port Arthur are coincidental,” a company spokesperson was quoted as saying, referring to reports that Harvey, which resulted in significant loss of life and commerce in Texas in August last year, was the reason for Motiva looking outside of Port Arthur.

In May 2017, Motiva announced a $12bn investment, with a likely additional investment of $18bn by 2023.

The agreement is predicted to boost the Port Arthur facility’s operations, create about 2,500 additional jobs in the short term and 12,000 jobs by 2023.

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