Saudi Arabia will walk away from a long-held lease for 5 million barrels of Caribbean oil storage near the key U.S. market and let PetroChina move in, industry sources tell Reuters, a move that both shows the declining importance of U.S. markets and the global reach of China:
Three sources familiar with Saudi operations at the terminal told Reuters state oil company Saudi Aramco ended its arrangement to lease at the 13 million-barrel Statia Terminals on the island of St. Eustatius. The 5 million-barrel lease, regularly renewed by an Aramco subsidiary since 1995, formally ends on December 31, one of the sources said.
“Aramco dropped out of storage recently, having discussed it for quite some time,” a source familiar with Saudi Aramco’s positions in the Caribbean said.
“They have more important emerging markets to look at.”
A source in China said PetroChina was negotiating to take the space, although it wasn’t clear whether it would mainly store crude oil or residual fuel, which is actively traded in the region. A second source familiar with the terminal said that a large, state-run enterprise was taking over the Aramco lease, but declined to identify the party.
The storage facility on St. Eustatius is operated by San Antonio-based NuStar Energy.