Saudi Aramco to pursue market share and downstream expansion strategy

21 December 2017
State energy behemoth aims to regain its lost oil market share once oil output reduction pact concludes at the end of 2018

Saudi oil giant Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, intends to regain its lost market share after the OPEC-led supply-cut pact concludes at the end of 2018 and plans to boost its downstream expansion strategy, its chief executive has said.

In an interview with Reuters, CEO Amin Nasser said Aramco, which is preparing for an IPO next year, is executing plans to provide impetus to its refining and petrochemicals strategy, and is in discussions with several players in Asia, Europe and the United States, for potential partnerships.

“We had to cut our allocations to certain markets based on the (Opec) agreement ... hopefully we will regain these markets as soon as this deal ends,” he said.

“We have a very reliable customer base. I don’t see (any) sort of problems in terms of gaining market share beyond the Opec agreement,” Nasser said, adding the company will continue to abide with the Opec production targets.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and a group of a dozen non-Opec producers led by Russia have agreed to extend oil output cuts until the end of next year to help lower global inventories and support prices.

Saudi Arabia, Opec’s de-facto leader, has shouldered the bulk of the output reductions, slashing its production by some 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) to around 10 million b/d.

Aramco is aiming to become the world’s largest integrated energy firm, with plans to expand its refining operations and petrochemical output. The company plans to raise its total refining capacity – both at home and abroad – to 8 million-10 million b/d from around 5.4 million b/d now.

“If you look at our peers, their refining capacity is either equal or much higher than their production capacities. So we are looking at our refining capacity to be in that range,” Nasser said.

Aramco’s focus to expand and regain its market share will remain on Asia, Nasser said, adding that the United States and Europe are also two important markets for the company. Last year, Shell and Aramco announced plans to break up the US Motiva Enterprises after almost two decades, dividing its assets.

“The US is an important market and we are looking at expanding after having taken the full ownership of Motiva. We are looking at expanding our footprint in the US for sure,” he said.

China, the world’s second biggest oil consumer, is one of the main markets where Aramco wants to expand its foothold, Nasser said. That would fit in with a push by Aramco to regain its dominance in supplying China, having lost the advantage to Russia this year.

The company is in talks with PetroChina, China’s second-largest state-run refiner, to invest in its Yunnan refinery which started operations this year. Nasser said he expects to finalize the Yunnan joint venture agreement soon.

Earlier this year Saudi Arabia pledged billions of dollars of investment in projects in Indonesia and Malaysia to ensure long-term oil supply deals.

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