Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, will open an office in Seoul next month to enter the Korean energy market. Sources in the government and energy industry here said the state-run Saudi oil giant recently completed the formalities to open Aramco Asia Korea Ltd.
Saudi Aramco plans to hire staff to sell crude oil and LPG but also to bring aboard experts in renewable energy and energy market analysts. So far Aramco’s investments here were overseen by offices in China or Japan.
Aramco is the largest shareholder of S-Oil with a 35-percent stake and so far focused on petroleum and gas refining and exports. But now it apparently decided it needs an office here since Korean companies became more competitive in the areas of renewable energy and plant construction.
Saudi Aramco manages 259.7 billion barrels worth of crude oil reserves, accounting for a quarter of the world's entire oil deposits. Last year, the company pumped out 9.1 million barrels of crude a day, the most in the world.
Aramco also ranks fourth in the world in terms of gas reserves. Last year, it announced a five-year, US$125-billion plan to boost refining facilities around the world.
The focus on renewable energies is a recent development. Through S-Oil, Aramco bought a 33.4 percent stake in Hankook Silicon last year, making it the second biggest shareholder in the manufacturer of polysilicon, the main ingredient in solar fuel cells.