Saudi Aramco-Motiva leads the race to buy LyondellBasell's Houston refinery

Saudi Aramco and its US refining joint-venture Motiva Enterprises have emerged as top contenders in the race to buy LyondellBasell Industries Houston refinery valued at around $1.5 billion, Reuters yesterday reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

Dutch chemical company Lyondell had earlier hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to help with a sale of the refinery.

Saudi Aramco-Motiva emerged as the leading contender over the weekend, when Lyondell's management evaluated proposals from potential buyers, the report said.

A deal is expected to be announced as early as this week, the report added.

LyondellBasell's Houston refinery is one of the largest refineries in the US designed to process heavy-sulfur crude oil.

The 268,000-barrel-per-day refinery located on the US Gulf Coast with access to interstate pipelines and the Port of Houston covers an area of around 700 acres.

The refinery has the ability to transform very heavy high-sulfur crude oil into clean fuels including reformulated gasoline and low-sulfur diesel. Other products include heating oil, jet fuel, olefins feedstocks, aromatics, lubricants and petroleum coke.

The refinery's clean products include premium grades such as reformulated gasoline, jet fuel, ultra-low sulfur diesel and aromatics. Other products include conventional gasoline, lube oils, carbon black oil, refinery-grade propylene, sulfur, residual fuel and petroleum coke.