Aramco Trading has sold its first-ever West Texas Light (WTL) cargo as part of Saudi Aramco’s ambition to become a top oil trader, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing four people with knowledge of the matter.
According to the sources, Aramco Trading Company has sold the 1-million-barrel cargo of WTL to South Korean refiner Hyundai Oilbank, with which the Saudi oil giant signed earlier this year an agreement to buy a 17-percent stake.
The Saudi Aramco-controlled Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, has been selling U.S. crude grades to Aramco Trading for the Saudi trading unit to re-sell them on the Asian market, Reuters’ sources said.
Aramco Trading has boosted sales of very light crudes, such as WTL, to South Korea in recent months, after the Korean refiners had to stop imports of condensate from Iran due to the U.S. sanctions, trade sources told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the national oil companies (NOCs) of OPEC’s largest producers are thinking long term and vying for a large slice of the oil trading pie. The NOCs in the Middle Eastern producers are already competing with the largest independent oil traders including Vitol, Trafigura, Glencore, Mercuria, and Gunvor.
Saudi Aramco – the top oil producer in the world and the Kingdom’s state-owned giant – has started to expand its oil trading business, aiming to be a top oil trader to open new avenues of sales for its oil and to make sure that Saudi crude will have a market for as long as the world needs oil, which, Aramco believes, will be for decades and decades to come.
Aramco Trading is aggressively expanding its business, rising from 300,000 bpd in sales when it was set up in 2012, to 4.5 million bpd now. The Saudi giant aims to further boost the trading volume to 6 million bpd by the end of 2020, Aramco’s senior vice president of Downstream, Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, told Reuters in May.