HOUSTON (Reuters) – Saudi Aramco IPO-ARMO.SE took the first steps to expand the largest refinery in the United States on Saturday, which is operated by its subsidiary Motiva Enterprises.
ARCHIVE PHOTO – Saudi Aramco logo at the 20th Middle East Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference (MOES 2017) in Manama, Bahrain, March 7, 2017. REUTERS / Hamad I Mohammed / Stock Photo  Aramco & # 39; s Chief Executive Amin Nasser signed agreements with Honeywell UOP, ( HON.N ) and Technip FMC ( FTI.N ) to study the technology of petrochemical production for its use in a multi-billion dollar chemical plant the company is considering building in the Port Arthur refinery.
"These agreements signal our expansion plans in petrochemicals," said Motiva CEO Brian Coffman.
Coffman also said that Motiva is evaluating increasing the refinery's capacity from 603,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1 million or 1.5 million bpd, which would make it the largest in the world.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who is finishing a two-week visit to the United States, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and United States Energy Secretary Rick Perry were present at the firm.
ARCHIVE PHOTO – ARAMCO Executive Director Amin Nasser speaks during an interview with REUTERS in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, December 13, 2017. REUTERS / Hamad I Mohammed
The aromatics unit for which we are considering the technology of Honeywell UOP would convert benzene and paraxylene, byproducts of gasoline production, into 2 million tons per year of raw materials for chemicals and plastics.
Technip FMC technology would produce 2 million tons per year of ethylene, which is used to make plastics, said Motiva.
The final investment decision at the Port Arthur petrochemical plant is not expected until 2019, Motiva said in a statement.
Coffman did not provide a timeline for the possible expansion of the crude processing capacity of the Port Arthur refinery.
"That is something that we are evaluating, we are studying for the future," he said.
The Reliance Industries refinery ( RELI.NS ) of 1.2 million bpd in Jamnagar, India, has the largest crude oil processing capacity in the world.
Aramco said last year that it would invest $ 18 billion in Motiva to expand the refinery and move into petrochemical production.
Other US companies, including Chevron Phillips Chemical Co: a joint venture of Chevron Corp ( CVX.N ) and Phillips 66 ( PSX.N ) – and Exxon Mobil Corp ( XOM.N ), have recently opened plants, such as the one Motiva is considering, to process ethane in ethylene.
Chevron Phillips is considering building a second ethane cracker on the Texas Gulf Coast.
According to analysts, the price tag for a large ethane cracker is typically more than $ 6 billion. In addition to taking refining byproducts, ethane biscuits provide hydrogen for refineries to use in the manufacture of motor fuels.