Saudi Aramco looks to the US market, while Libya plans to make a comeback as a crude oil exporter

Saudi Aramco looks to the US market, while Libya plans to make a comeback as a crude oil exporter

Emilio Fabio Torsello
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The Saudi national company aims at controlling the two most important refineries in Texas, while Iran has announced an increase in oil production by 2020

A complex game of stakeholding in subsidiary companies could allow Saudi Arabia to gain control of the two largest refineries in Texas. Saudi Aramco, Riyadh’s national oil company, along with Royal Dutch Shell, already in fact owns one of the facilities run by Motiva Enterprises LLC that constitutes the largest refinery in the United States. In 2017, on the basis of agreements that have already been signed, Aramco will have full control of the main assets of Motiva, a company that also manages production sites in Louisiana. Thus, through Motiva, Saudi Aramco could then "buy" America’s second largest refinery. Motiva is indeed in the running to purchase the historical LyondellBasell Refinery, located at Houston and that has a capacity of 268mila bpd. The operation would allow the Saudis to gain control of the two most important oil refining facilities in Texas. This would mean that - from next April on - part of the gasoline purchased from US distributors will be Saudi. Indeed, Saudi Aramco is no newcomer to this type of operation. The company, owned by the Saudi royal family, in fact already operates in a research center located just behind the MIT, and in another in Houston.
And if Saudi Arabia looks to the United States to expand its market, its direct rival - Iran - aims to increase its exports of crude oil by over 20% by 2020. Tehran aims to bring production from 3.8 million barrels per day to 5 million barrels and is seeking 200 billions of foreign investments.

Lastly, key energy player Libya is poised to make a comeback as an oil producer in the coming months. Two days ago the Libyan authorities announced the start of operations for loading a tanker with 600 thousand barrels of oil at the port of Ras Lanuf - crude oil that could be exported or refined. A circumstance that could also directly change the balance between the oil-producing countries, given that Libyan production had been reduced to a minimum.
"Exports will resume immediately from Zuwaytina and Ras Lanuf and will continue at Brega,"the president of the National Oil Company (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla declared in a statement published on the company website, that also announces that "exports will resume from Al-Sidra as soon as possible". With an estimated 48 billion barrels, Libya possesses the largest oil reserves in Africa.