State-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Saudi Aramco) is the king of oil. It is the world's #1 oil producer, supplying more than 10% of global oil demand. In 2012 the company had oil reserves of 260 billion barrels (the world's largest); it also owned 283 trillion cu. ft. of natural gas reserves (the fourth largest in the world). It operates refineries, markets oil internationally, and distributes it domestically. Saudi Aramco owns a fleet of oil tankers and invests in refineries, marketing, and distribution ventures in other countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, and the US. The company exports 55% of its crude oil to the Far East.
The petroleum sector accounts for 45% of Saudi Arabia's GDP and 90% of its export earnings. Already flush with cash, robust global oil prices have lifted the company's revenues in the last two years, providing additional capital for expansion.
Saudi Aramco harnesses this capital and the know-how of oil partners in other countries to develop its reserves, as well as to enhance its oil production, storage, marketing, and distribution capabilities. For example, Motiva Enterprises (its 50-50 joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell's Shell Oil) operates three US refineries and markets its gasoline at Shell-branded gas stations. In 2012 this unit completed a $7 billion expansion of its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, which made it the largest in the US and one of the biggest in the world, with a throughput capacity of 600,000 barrels per day.
The company signed a deal with Dow Chemical in 2011, to create the joint venture Sadara Chemical Company. It will build and operate one of the world's largest fully integrated chemicals complex (in Jubail Industrial City). The complex is expected to be fully operational by 2016.
Another joint venture is Petro Rabigh, an integrated refining/petrochemical facility built in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical each own about 38% of the company. Saudi Aramco has also teamed up with TOTAL to form the Jubail Refining and Petrochemical Company. The two JVs are building two new refineries in Saudi Arabia with a combined capacity of 800,000 barrels per day.
Saudi Aramco dates back to 1933 when Saudi Arabia agreed to open up a large area for exploration by Standard Oil of California (now Chevron). – less