Goldman, HSBC Said to Help Abu Dhabi on $20 Billion Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc are advising Abu Dhabi’s government-owned oil company on the possible sale of a stake in its $20 billion refining unit, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. is reviewing offers from potential partners who could buy as much as 40 percent of its refining business, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. A 40 percent stake could be valued at $8 billion.

An Adnoc media official declined to comment on the sale but said the company had received significant interest in its effort to attract partners across its businesses. Goldman Sachs and HSBC declined to comment.

Adnoc and other Middle Eastern crude producers, including state companies in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are expanding their capacity to process oil into refined fuels and petrochemicals to boost income and diversify away from sales of the raw commodity. They’re building refineries at home and in the U.S. and Asia, their biggest market for oil.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and holder of most of the country’s crude reserves, wants Adnoc to squeeze more profit from the emirate’s hydrocarbon wealth to underpin economic growth. To tap new funding sources, Adnoc last year sold its first bond and shares in its retail service-station business.

Foreign Partners

Arab oil producers in the Gulf are turning increasingly to foreign partners for new technologies and to share risks as they push into refining and chemicals. When crude plunged by half in 2014, after four years when oil prices averaged more than $100 a barrel, these countries realized they needed to develop additional sources of income.

Adnoc Chief Executive Officer Sultan Al Jaber last month outlined $45 billion in refining and petrochemical projects in a bid to attract foreign partners, and the company is considering as many as 10 international deals and projects. It has a refining capacity of 922,000 barrels a day, mostly at its Ruwais refining and petrochemicals complex on the Gulf coast, where it plans to build a 600,000 barrel-a-day plant.

Potential investors in Adnoc’s refining business would help run existing units and participate in building the new crude-processing facility, according to the people with knowledge. Adnoc also wants a partner to help it operate a trading business for crude and refined fuels, the people said. The company said in April it was starting the trading unit, and it hired former HSBC banker and Total SA oil trader Philippe Khoury to manage the business.

BP Plc may invest in Ruwais, CEO Bob Dudley said in a May interview in Abu Dhabi. Vienna-based OMV AG is also considering buying a stake in Adnoc’s refining business, people familiar with the situation said in April. Total plans to evaluate downstream opportunities with Adnoc, its CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in an interview with Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper in March.

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