Saudi Aramco is already the biggest shareholder in South Korea’s No.3 refiner, S-Oil Corp, with a 63.41% stake, and the latest deal should help Aramco boost crude oil sales to Hyundai Oilbank—which is the South’s smallest refiner by capacity.
Saudi Arabia is the top crude oil supplier to South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest importer. In 2018, South Korea imported 323.17mn barrels of crude from the kingdom, or 885,408 barrels per day, according to Korea National Oil Corp data.
Saudi Aramco’s chief executive told Reuters in November that it planned to expand its market share in Asia—including China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Africa.
Saudi Aramco also stated that it plans to buy a stake of up to 19.9% of Hyundai Oilbank from Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings, which now owns 91.13% of Hyundai Oilbank.
“Saudi Aramco seems to be boosting investments in downstream projects ahead of an initial public offering,” stated Lee Dong-wook, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.
Khalid al-Falih, the Saudi Energy Minister stated in early January that the state oil giant will be listed by 2021.
Aramco, which is the world’s largest crude producer, plans to increase investment in refining and petrochemicals in a bid to cut its reliance on crude as demand for oil slows down.Hyundai Oilbank has a total of 650,000 barrels per day of refining capacity in the southwestern city of Daesan and also aims to expand its petrochemical business.
Last year in May, it announced plans to build a $2.4bn petrochemical plant with South Korea’s Lotte Chemical. Saudi Aramco plans to value Hyundai Oilbank at $8.9bn, or $32.28 per share, stated Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings in a statement.