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Aramco Steps into Trading, Sees Higher Product Volumes

Source: Reuters 5/7/2012, Location: Middle East

Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co, the top oil exporter's new trading arm, expects its refined oil products trading volumes to rise to 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) as it aims to capitalize on its strong market position, the firm's chief executive said. Aramco Trading, a subsidiary of state-run Saudi Aramco, which is undertaking a massive increase in its refining capacity, started commercial operations in January.

"Establishing a trading business was natural as the downstream system got more complex," Said al-Hadrami told the Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference in Bahrain in his first public speech as the president and CEO of the company since its launch.

"Our mandate is for different types of trading with the exception of crude," he said. "Our typical volume per day is around 500,000 to 600,000 bpd and it is likely to rise to 1.5 million bpd in the near future," he said.

Currently the range of products traded includes refined products, condensate and sulphur, while liquified petroleum gas (LPG) will soon be added to the trading portfolio.

The company, based at the state company's Dhahran headquarters, replaces a marketing department. Hadrami said the trading business was going through an evolution in the Middle East with trade flows shifting and trading patterns changing.

"We do not think volatility is always bad but we think it's more manageable in the trading environment than a traditional marketing business," he said.

Aramco is one of the largest exporters of fuel oil and naphtha into East Asia as well as a net importer of gas oil but it had not been taking positions in the market before and therefore operating as a trader is uncharted territory, traders in the region say.

But Hadrami is confident about the capability of the company's workforce and said the majority of their traders are hired internally.

"We lined up the best in house talent and hired selectively outside," he said.

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