HOUSTON (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco IPO-ARMO.SE took the first steps toward expanding the largest U.S. refinery on Saturday, which is operated by its subsidiary Motiva Enterprises.
Aramco’s Chief Executive Amin Nasser signed agreements with Honeywell UOP, (HON.N) and Technip FMC (FTI.N) to study petrochemical production technology for use in a multi-billion-dollar chemical plant the company is considering building at the Port Arthur refinery.
“These agreements signal our plans for expansion into petrochemicals,” said Motiva’s Chief Executive Brian Coffman.
Coffman also said Motiva is evaluating boosting the 603,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery’s capacity to 1 million or 1.5 million bpd, which would make it the largest in the world.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is finishing a two-week visit to the United States, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry were present at the signing.
The aromatics unit for which Honeywell UOP’s technology is being considered would convert benzene and paraxylene, byproducts of gasoline production, into 2 million tons annually of feedstocks for chemicals and plastics.
The Technip FMC technology would produce 2 million tons a year of ethylene, which is used to make plastics, Motiva said.
The final investment decision on 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 Port Arthur refinery’s crude oil processing