Shell expects to split Motiva assets with Saudi Aramco in the second-quarter

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Shell Oil Co, the U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said it expects to divide the refineries and other assets of its Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] venture with co-owner Saudi Aramco in the second quarter of 2017.

A Shell logo is seen reflected in a car's side mirror at a petrol station in west London, Britain, January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Shell and Saudi Aramco announced the plan in March 2016 to divide up the nearly 20-year-old venture, which runs three refineries and other assets. As part of the deal, Aramco will make a $2.2 billion balancing payment to Shell.

The split is part of Aramco’s strategy to expand its global refining footprint to secure markets for its oil and may also be part of its initial public offering, in which the Saudi government will sell up to 5 percent of the firm.

“We are pleased with the progress we have made to date, and anticipate completion of the transaction in Q2 2017,” Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said in an email, adding that the target date was April 1.

Aramco and Shell confirmed on Tuesday they had signed agreements to split Motiva, which is subject to regulatory approval.

“A simplified, integrated business structure will emerge from this deal for us in the United States,” Shell’s downstream director, John Abbott, said in a statement.

The two firms had originally targeted October 2016 to split the assets, which include pipelines and terminals, alongside refineries, but was delayed by discussions about the balancing payment.

Under the deal, Saudi Aramco will retain the Motiva name and the 603,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, the largest in the United States.

Aramco will also take over 24 distribution terminals and have an exclusive license to use the Shell brand for gasoline and diesel sales in Texas, the majority of the Mississippi River Valley, and the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic markets.

Shell will become sole owner of two Louisiana refineries with a combined capacity of 472,700 bpd, 11 distribution terminals and Shell-branded gasoline stations in Florida, Louisiana and the U.S. Northeast.

Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston and Roslan Khasawneh in Dubai; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Edmund Blair