Saudi Aramco will assume control of the biggest oil refinery in the U.S. after a $2.2 billion deal with Britain's Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) that exits a joint venture in Port Arthur, Texas.
The deal will split assets in Motiva Enterprises LLC, a refining and marketing business based in Houston that has a top-end capacity of around 1.1 million barrels per day from three separate refineries. One of the three, in Port Arthur, is the biggest in the U.S., with a daily capacity of 600,000 barrels per day, and will fall under the control of Saudi Refining, a wholly-owned unit of Saudi Aramco.
"This transaction is well aligned with Aramco's global downstream strategy," said Aramco's downstream vice president Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi. "Motiva is a strong competitor among U.S. refiners, and we value this important link with the dynamic U.S. energy sector. Our intent is to continue providing Motiva with strong financial support as it transitions into a stand-alone downstream affiliate."
The sale is likely to spark an intense debate among U.S. business and political leaders as the country attempts to lure Saudi Aramco's impending trillion dollar stock market listing later next year while maintaining control of key infrastructure facilities as global oil prices rise and energy security concerns intensify.
Last month, Saudi Arabia's energy minister and former Aramco CEO Khalid al-Falih hinted that the Kingdom could increase its U.S. investment pace following President Donald Trump's November election victory, telling the BBC that the new administration was moving away from "excessively anti-fossil fuel, unrealistic policies by some well-intentioned environment proponents."
Interestingly, the deal follows an announcement from Exxon Mobil (XON) - Get Reportthat it is planning to invest $20 billion over a 10 year period along the U.S. Gulf Coast in an effort it says will create more than 45,000 "high paying jobs across the region and thousands more through multiplier effect."
President Trump praised the investment plans on Twitter late Monday and said that America is "already winning again" thanks to his administration's policies.
"This is exactly the kind of investment, economic development and job creation that will help put Americans back to work," the President said in an official White House statement. "Many of the products that will be manufactured here in the United States by American workers will be exported to other countries, improving our balance of trade. This is a true American success story. In addition, the jobs created are paying on average $100,000 per year."
Multiple media outlets subsequently noted that the Exxon investment plan was originally launched in 2013.
Shell shares were marked 0.53% higher in London at 2,253.5 pence each, extending a three month gain to around 2.7%.