Aramco to buy Shell’s 50% stake in Saudi refining joint venture for $631m

Saudi Aramco is to take full ownership of a refinery company based in Jubail Industrial City. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2019
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Aramco to buy Shell’s 50% stake in Saudi refining joint venture for $631m

  • The sale is expected to complete later this year
  • Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery Co., based in Jubail Industrial City, has a crude oil refining capacity of 305,000 barrels per day

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco will acquire Royal Dutch Shell’s 50 percent stake in their Saudi refining joint venture SASREF for $631 million, the two companies said on Sunday.

The purchase, which is part of Aramco’s strategy to expand its downstream operations, will be completed later this year, they said in a joint statement.

Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery Co. (SASREF), based in Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, has a crude oil refining capacity of 305,000 barrels per day (bpd).

“Saudi Aramco will take full ownership and integrate the refinery into its growing downstream portfolio. SASREF will continue to be a critical facility in our refining and chemicals business,” Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, Aramco’s senior vice president of downstream, said in the statement.

Aramco aims to become a global leader in chemicals and the world’s largest integrated energy firm, with plans to expand its refining operations and petrochemical output.

For Shell, “the sale is part of an ongoing effort to focus its refining portfolio, integrating with Shell trading hubs and chemicals,” the company said.

Shell has sold over $30 billion of assets in recent years as it shifts its focus to lower carbon businesses such as natural gas and petrochemicals.


Oil prices drop on swelling US stockpiles, but markets remain tense

Updated 11 min 39 sec ago
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Oil prices drop on swelling US stockpiles, but markets remain tense

  • US crude stockpiles rose by 2.4 million barrels last week, to 480.2 million barrels
  • US bank Morgan Stanley said it expected Brent prices to trade in a $75-$80 per barrel range in the second half of this year

SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Wednesday after industry data showed an increase in US crude inventories and as Saudi Arabia pledged to keep markets balanced.
However, analysts said oil markets remained tight amid supply cuts led by producer group OPEC and as political tension escalates in the Middle East.
Brent crude futures were down 39 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $71.79 a barrel by 0658 GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July delivery were down 59 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $62.54. The June contract expired on Tuesday, settling at $62.99 a barrel, down 11 cents.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday that US crude stockpiles rose by 2.4 million barrels last week, to 480.2 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 599,000 barrels.
Official data from the US Energy Information Administration’s oil stockpiles report is due later on Wednesday.
Outside the United States, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said it was committed to a balanced and sustainable oil market.
Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which the kingdom is the de-facto leader, that began in January and are aimed at reducing global oversupply.
Because of the cuts, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said crude output by OPEC and its allies fell by 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) between November 2018 and April 2019. That has helped push up Brent crude prices by more than a third since the start of the year.
The bank said some of the impact of the cuts was offset by a slowdown in global oil demand growth due to trade tensions to just 0.7 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of this year, versus a five-year average of 1.5 million bpd.
Despite the slowdown, US bank Morgan Stanley said it expected Brent prices to trade in a $75-$80 per barrel range in the second half of this year, pushed up by tight supply and demand fundamentals.
The physical oil market is also showing signs of tightness.
Qatar Petroleum has sold Al-Shaheen July delivery crude at the highest average premium since 2013 — $3.06 per barrel above the benchmark Dubai quote — on robust demand for medium-heavy grades in Asia, according to multiple trade sources.
Beyond market fundamentals, oil traders are looking to the tensions between the United States and Iran.
US President Donald Trump on Monday threatened Iran with “great force” if it attacked US interests in the Middle East.
On Tuesday, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said threats from Iran remained high.
Tensions have risen since Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports to try to strangle the country’s economy and force Tehran to halt its nuclear program.