[THE INVESTOR] Saudi Aramco’s plan to buy into Hyundai Oilbank, a major Korean refiner, seems to be Saudi Arabia’s strategic push to keep the Asian market from the United States and other competitors, a report showed on Jan. 30.
In a regulatory filing, Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings said it has signed a deal with Saudi Aramco to sell its 19.9 percent stake in Hyundai Oilbank for up to 1.8 trillion won (US$1.60 billion).
Saudi Aramco will emerge as the second-largest shareholder of Hyundai Oilbank once the deal wins approval from the board of Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings.
S&P Global Platts said in the report that “Saudi Aramco’s move could give the major Middle Eastern crude producer a strong foothold in one of Asia’s leading oil consumers.”
“It comes a year after the Middle Eastern firm decided to invest in two of Asia’s biggest refining projects -- in Malaysia and in India -- a strategic push into Asia that will ensure the Middle East producer a huge outlet for its crude in coming years as oil faces increasing competition from alternative energy supplies,” S&P Global Platts said.
Saudi Aramco’s planned purchase of a major stake in Hyundai Oilbank comes as Saudi Arabia saw its market share slide last year amid Korea’s growing appetite for light sweet crude oil from the US, Kazakhstan and Africa, it added.
According to the latest data from the state-run Korea National Oil Corp., Korea’s crude imports from Saudi Arabia sank 17.1 percent on-year to 24.48 million barrels in December 2018.
In contrast, crude imports from the US increased nearly sixfold to 13.61 million barrels over the cited period.
By Ram Garikipati and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)