Aramco Trading has sold its first shipment of West African crude, underlining the Saudi oil giant’s expansionary ambitions for its trading arm.
The company has earmarked a million-barrel shipment of Zafiro crude for Equatorial Guinea for loading in early June to ExxonMobil, Bloomberg reported, citing traders familiar with the matter. They said the shipment would be processed by Exxon’s refining system in Europe.
Saudi Aramco – the world’s largest oil exporter – is entering the new market as buyers demand alternatives to Russian barrels. West African crude is one of the alternatives to Russian supplies and has proven attractive because it is less sulfurous and dense than Middle Eastern oil.
Aramco has in recent months supplied Danish and Polish refineries with oil, helping European countries get rid of Russian oil.
Aramco Trading targets volumes of up to 6 million barrels per day, depending on third-party crude, which was not produced in Saudi Arabia. The company often processes these barrels in non-Saudi refineries and buys back the products for sale elsewhere, according to Bloomberg, which was reviewed by Al Arabiya.net.
On the other hand, Aramco is studying an initial public offering for its petroleum trading unit, which competes with similar divisions in companies such as Shell, BP and Total, and is likely to be one of the largest initial public offerings in the world this year.
The trading arm was set up in Saudi Arabia in 2011 and initially focused on downstream production such as refined products before expanding into crude oil and adding offices in Fujairah, London and Singapore, according to the company’s website.
Bloomberg sources said Aramco, which recently became the world’s most valuable company, may sell a 30% stake in its trading unit.