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Motiva expansion comes on line in Texas

Motiva expansion comes on line in Texas

A ceremonial turning of the valve during the Port Arthur Crude Expansion celebration on May 31 in Port Arthur, Texas. The Motiva Refinery is a joint venture between affiliates of Shell and Saudi Aramco. With the expansion, it is now the largest oil refinery in North America with a daily crude oil processing capacity of 600,000 barrels per day. From left are Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell; Khalid G. Al-Buainain, senior vice president of Downstream, Saudi Aramco; Bob Pease, president and CEO of Motiva Enterprises LLC; Mark Williams, Downstream director of Royal Dutch Shell and Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco. 

Peter Voser and Khalid A. Al-Falih answer questions from the media during a press conference following the refinery’s expansion ceremony. 

The expansion of the Motiva Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is now complete making it the largest refinery in North America. This photo shows the refinery during construction. The capacity has more than doubled to 600,000 barrels per day. 


HOUSTON — It has been five years in the making. Standing at the Motiva Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, you know you are about to be a part of something big – even by Texas standards – for the state, the nation and the world.

With the turn of a ceremonial valve by Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih and Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Peter Voser, the start of oil flowing through new units at the complex begins. History has been made. 

Motiva was formed in 1998 as a refining and marketing joint venture between affiliates of Shell and Saudi Aramco. It is a limited liability company (LLC) in which Saudi Refining, Inc. (SRI) has a 50-50 interest. 

With a cost of about $10 billion dollars, the magnitude of this expansion is impressive on many fronts. The Port Arthur Crude Expansion Project (CEP) is so massive that it basically represents the building of a new refinery – the first in the U.S. in 30 years in terms of capacity and magnitude of the investment. The facility’s daily crude oil processing capacity has more than doubled to 600,000 barrels per day, making it North America’s largest oil refinery and one of the top 10 refineries in the world.
Along with the additional capacity, the refinery has increased its flexibility to process a wide variety of crude oils, ranging from relatively light to heavy. The major products of the refinery are gasoline, distillates, jet fuel, and base oils. Technical enhancements to the refinery provide the flexibility to vary gasoline and diesel production to accommodate changing market conditions.

Increased refining capacity as well as operational flexibility and efficiencies are two major hallmarks of the project, but perhaps the greatest significance is what this project represents to the industry and the American energy market.

The project is one component in the broader strategy for Saudi Aramco. Despite the global downstream sector undergoing short-term pressures, Saudi Aramco firmly believes the business has healthy prospects, especially for companies that take a long-term perspective and wisely invest in assets, technology, and people through the right partnerships.

“Our joint investment in Port Arthur with our partner Shell, as well as our other downstream partnerships around the globe is testament to that belief,” commented Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih. “In fact, over the next decade, we will push the total worldwide capacity of refineries we own fully or through joint ventures up to some 8 million barrels a day, the largest of any oil company in the world.” He referred to the investment in the Motiva Refinery as a “vote of confidence” in the downstream sector. 

The project further illustrates that large petroleum enterprises such as Saudi Aramco are particularly well positioned to maximize long-term value creation from integrated activities all along the value chain, from the reservoir through to product delivery.

“While this refinery has a long and proud history, it now has an even brighter and more promising future,” Al-Falih told dignitaries and guests gathered to celebrate this milestone event.

The expanded facility allows for the production of about 23 million gallons of transportation fuels a day and will help in reducing bottlenecks that contribute to higher gasoline prices in the United States.  

“This expansion is another major milestone in Saudi Aramco’s ambitious plans toward becoming one of the top leading globally integrated oil and petrochemical companies in the world,” emphasized Khalid Al-Buainain, Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president of Downstream. “It also reinforces our commitment to the world energy needs while creating value not only for the enterprise but also for the local communities wherever we operate. We are proud to have such a successful joint venture in Motiva and look forward to its continued success and prosperity.”

The project serves as an example of what can be accomplished through teamwork and commitment. “The collaboration between Crude Sales and Marketing, Saudi Refining, Inc. (SRI), Saudi Petroleum International, Inc. (SPII), and our Motiva Joint Venture serves at its best a model for effective communication and leadership,” said Dawood Dawood, Saudi Aramco’s vice president of Marketing Supply and Joint Venture Coordination (MS&JVC), about the expansion’s start-up crude supply and logistics.  

From the beginning, SRI played an integral role in the project. The company’s staff contributed to the initial design of the expansion with input on crude oil slate, process license selection and unit capacities. SRI participated in monthly Steering Committee meetings to provide oversight of the project. Also, there were several SRI employees embedded on the project offering process engineering, project controls and commissioning, and start-up support, explained Tofiq Al-Gabsani, SRI president.

While the technical achievements are considerable, throughout the ceremony, it was the “people component” that was emphasized as key to a successful completion. “This is a testimony to the people who took this project from a dream to a reality,” said Tom Purves, vice president, Manufacturing and Port Arthur Crude Expansion Project. “The legacy of this project is the people.” 

During the ceremony, Motiva CEO Bob Pease commented on this collaborative effort. “The refinery that has emerged from these collective efforts is the largest in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. It is also the nation’s largest manufacturer of lubricant-based oils,” he said.  “As one of the longest-lived and most successful joint ventures in the industry, Motiva has established an ambitious goal – to be in the top quartile in every essential aspect of fuels and lubricants manufacture and supply. We already distribute and market the No. 1 branded fuels product in the nation, and now, thanks to your help, we’ve turned one of America’s first refineries into its biggest.” 

Indeed, it came together in a big way for the people and businesses in the Golden Triangle area of southeast Texas, making it a proud moment for the city of Port Arthur. Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince thanked everyone for the vote of confidence placed in the city saying, “This refinery impacts the world; it impacts the nation; and it impacts the lives of so many in this community.” 

For industry, the project had an impact in terms of providing an opportunity to employ new state-of-the-art technologies, resulting in a facility that has the efficiencies and economies of scale to make this one of the lowest-cost refineries in the country. 

The far-reaching effects of this project will be felt worldwide as Motiva continues to build upon its success — first as a leader in the distribution and marketing of the No. 1 branded fuels products in the U.S., and now, as operator of North America’s largest refinery. 
All About Motiva
For a bit of Texas trivia, the refinery is located in an area of Southeast Texas between the cities of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange. This area is referred to as the Golden Triangle because it refers to the wealth that came from the famous Spindletop oil discovery in Beaumont in 1901. 

To put the refinery expansion into perspective, here are some interesting facts and accomplishments:
  • From a construction perspective, the expansion required 62,776 foundation piles to be driven in order to support structures.
  • Nearly 1,400 miles of wire and cable were laid for the project. This is the equivalent distance from Port Arthur, Texas, to New York City, New York. 
  • 325,000 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction and 156 million pounds of structural steel. 
  • 35 million job hours worked with an achieved 11 million man-hours safety record, without any lost-time injuries. 
Motiva’s success continued
Motiva was formed in 1998 as a refining and marketing joint venture between affiliates of Shell and Saudi Aramco. It is a limited liability company (LLC) in which Saudi Refining Inc. (SRI) has a 50/50 interest with an affiliate of Shell Oil Company. Motiva refines, distributes and markets petroleum products under the Shell-branded gasoline stations in the eastern and southern United States through approximately 8,300 service stations.

The Port Arthur expansion is a continuation of Motiva’s successful business operations. Motiva has three refineries in the eastern and southern U.S. (Texas and Louisiana) currently capable of refining more than one million barrels of crude oil per day.  Motiva also has ownership or partial interests in 38 product terminals. 

Learn more about Motiva LLC by visiting their website at
Fast Facts
The Port Arthur Refinery Crude Expansion Project will bring online an additional 325,000 barrels per day (BPD)of crude oil capacity. Just what are the products and in what quantities. 
  • Over 6.0 million gallons/day gasoline (enough for  400,000 cars).
  • Over 3.4 million gallons/day ultra-low sulfur diesel.
  • 1.3 million gallons/day jet fuel
  • 8,000 tons/day petroleum coke (80 rail cars/day).
  • 1,050 tons/day sulfur (50 trucks/day).
  • Plus LPG (8,000 BPD), propylene (5,000 BPD), butane (3,000 BPD), isobutane (1,500 BPD).


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