Will Donald Trump give Saudi Arabia everything it asks for? That’s the question Republican voters might want answered after the latest news came out that the Port Arthur oil refinery facilities in Texas were acquired by Saudi Arabian state oil company Saudi Aramco. The refining facilities, which can process up to 600,000 barrels of oil daily, are America’s largest.
Saudi control over Port Arthur will allow the Muslim nation to continue to maintain a foothold in America, one of its largest customers for its oil, which the U.S. has been buying sharply increased amounts of (the jump from 2016 to 2017 was 32 percent). This is in spite of the fact that the U.S.’s own supply of oil threatens to make America more energy independent, a goal that President Trump eagerly embraced on the campaign trail.
So which way does Trump want it? A closer look reveals that Saudi Aramco formerly owned part of the Port Arthur facilities as part of a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell called Motiva. But now, the Saudis are breaking Motiva up in order to get all of Port Arthur.
Did Trump have anything to do with this? No, but he’s in a position to say who is and who isn’t allowed to own an American oil refinery. The bigger question is what might have been discussed when Trump met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March at the White House — a meeting the Middle Eastern kingdom called “historic.”
When he was on the campaign trail, Trump had said he would halt Saudi Arabian oil imports if the country didn’t commit to providing ground troops to battle ISIS. But this is a step Saudi Arabia is unlikely to take because it wants to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. Ali Shihabi, an advisor to the Saudi government, said, “Good generals recognize lost battles,” in reference to Assad’s nation. Immediately after his election, Trump said, “without [the U.S.], Saudi Arabia wouldn’t exist for very long.” But watch, as it appears Trump’s views on the matter seem to have changed, according to Josh Tolley.