At a time when the Obama administration and the petroleum industry are advocating for expanding domestic oil production, it is worth pointing out that the nation’s largest refinery is not American owned.
Motiva’s owners recently sunk $10 billion into expanding its capacity for processing gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products. The changes also make the refinery capable of handling lower-quality heavy crude oil that Saudi Arabia has been producing recently—oil that most refineries can’t process.
“The Saudis are securing a home for their heavy crude,” Fadel Gheit, a senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Company, told The New York Times.
Since Barack Obama became president of the United States, Saudi exports to the U.S. have more than doubled, returning to a level last seen before the 2008 financial meltdown. U.S. exports to Saudi Arabia have also hit record highs.
Lawrence J. Goldstein, a director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, which is partly financed by the oil industry, said Motiva “guarantees the Saudis an important but subtle footprint in the United States, and they want to have some negotiating strength when geopolitical issues in the Middle East and elsewhere arise.”
But from the look of the refinery one would be hard pressed to know about its Saudi ownership. Inside the facility a visitor will find “a couple of Saudi Aramco coffee-table books on display in the executive offices and a pair of Saudi and Saudi Aramco flags inside the refinery’s small museum,” according to the Clifford Krauss of the Times. Little else reveals the Middle East presence behind the operation of the mammoth oil factory.