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Saudi Arabia Controls North America’s Largest Oil Refinery

Ahead of its expected IPO, Kingdom-owned Aramco now has 100 percent stake in this Texas facility.
saudi arabia oil

Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company, now has 100 percent control of the largest refinery in North America. The Port Arthur refinery in Texas, which can process 600,000 barrels of oil per day, is completely owned by Aramco.

The change of ownership, completed in 2017, should give the oil giant the ability to pump more Saudi crude into North America, ahead of its IPO, planned for some time in 2020 or 2021. Saudi Arabia is America’s second-largest source of crude oil, behind Canada, according to the Energy Information Administration.

[Editor’s note: The story has been edited to reflect the correct date of Aramco’s takeoever of the Port Arthur refinery]

The Gulf Coast facility had previously been co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell’s Motiva Enterprises.

Despite Saudi ownership of the highest volume refinery in North America, American companies refine by far the largest number of barrels of oil in the U.S. per day, occupying the top six slots on the table below. Aramco comes in a distant 11th place for number of barrels of oil refined per day in the U.S., according to data collected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Though U.S. oil exports have increased rapidly in recent years, to approximately 7.6 million barrels per day in 2018, U.S. oil imports have remained steady around 10 million barrels per day. Forty three percent of U.S. oil imports come from Canada, and 9 percent from Saudi Arabia. These countries make up the number one and two slots for top U.S. imports.

In addition to their U.S. refinery acquisition, the Saudis have also agreed to set up a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan, and they are in talks to spend another $10 billion in South Africa to build an oil refinery and petrochemical plant there.

Saudi Arabia had set its sights on a $2 trillion valuation for Aramco’s initial public offering, scheduled for 2019. However, those projections for an Aramco IPO “were never feasible,” reports Forbes, because the company didn’t keep its books according to international standards, or have formal paperwork designating its corporate structure, incorporation or bylaws until 2018.

The Trump administration’s decision to push for American energy independence, coupled with low oil prices and the Kingdom’s notorious spending, makes the Aramco IPO valuation stakes that much higher for the Saudis.

Barbara Boland is The American Conservative’s foreign policy and national security reporter. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.