This morning, Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco announced that they will continue with a $7 billion expansion of their Port Arthur, TX refinery. This expansion would create the largest U.S. refinery and one of the largest refineries worldwide. The plan will expand the refinery's capabilities by 325,000 barrels per day, bringing the capacity to 600,000 barrels per day. Motiva Enterprises (which is a jointly held unit of RDS and state-owned Saudi Aramco) stated that the expansion is the equivalent of building the first new refinery in the U.S. in more than 30 years. The refinery is expected to be online in 2010.

James Neale, an analyst with Citigroup, noted that RDS's decision could be a surprise considering that it has sold some Western-hemisphere refining capacity in recent years. This news gives me a chance to check in on oil prices, which are 4 cents higher per barrel in early trading. The rocketing per-barrel price of oil is at $81.82 after advancing as high as $83.90 in yesterday's trade.