Saudi Aramco Said to Plan Gasoline Exports From Jubail Plant

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. may offer the first cargoes of gasoline and diesel next month from a new joint-venture refinery, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

The state-owned company known as Saudi Aramco may ship light products from the facility at the Persian Gulf port of Jubail, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is not public. The venture with France’s Total SA, called Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co. or Satorp, already plans to offer one or two cargoes of straight-run fuel oil this month.

Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co., an Aramco unit, will sell the fuel oil, according to the people. The shipments will each comprise 80,000 metric tons and the first could be available through direct negotiation, rather than by tender, late in September, one of them said. Satorp may offer two more fuel oil cargoes next month before a coker unit starts.

The startup of Satorp is progressing as planned, Total said today in an e-mail. Nobody answered calls to Satorp’s media office in Khobar today and yesterday and a Saudi Aramco spokesman in Dhahran referred inquiries to Satorp.

Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest crude exporter. Satorp, 62.5 percent owned by Aramco and the remainder by Total, is processing the Arab Light blend at a 120,000 barrel-a-day unit, the second person said. Another crude unit of the same size will start next month, according to the person.

Both of the plant’s hydrocracker units, which are used in diesel production, will start next month, the person said. A coking facility, which will turn residues such as fuel oil into diesel and gasoline, is to start in November and will enable the refinery to process heavier crudes, the person said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, are boosting their domestic refining capacity to produce more fuels such as gasoline and diesel for local use. Refined products typically also fetch higher prices than crude in international markets.

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