In this Feb. 26, 1997 file photo, Khaled al-Otaiby, an official of the Saudi oil company Aramco, watches progress at a rig at the al-Howta oil field near Howta, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: AP

Saudi Aramco hired two Singapore-based traders and began dealing in fuel at the Middle East’s main bunkering port as the world’s biggest oil exporter expands further into the trading business.

Aramco’s trading unit started doing deals earlier this month at its new office in the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, according to people with knowledge of the situation. It hired five people, including Avyay Saxena who formerly worked at BP Plc and Trafigura Group and Max Moran who worked at the trading unit of Mexico’s Pemex, they said.

The company also hired a specialist in blending different products, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak to the media. Aramco Trading media officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Aramco Trading’s expansion plans would propel it into the top tier of global fuel-trading companies. It opened an office in Fujairah as part of a global push into new markets to secure buyers for oil products as well as crude. It already has a Singapore branch, plans to open an office in Europe and has started trading liquefied natural gas.

Saudi Aramco aims to double its refining capacity to about 10 million barrels a day over the next decade and is set to start a new 400,000 barrel-a-day oil-processing plant this year at Jazan in southwestern Saudi Arabia. It also plans to tap the U.S. gas market, agreeing Wednesday to buy a stake in a Sempra Energy LNG project in Texas and to buy fuel from the plant in a 20-year contract.

Aramco Trading, known officially as Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co., targets trading 6 million barrels a day of crude and products by 2020 compared with about 4 million barrels last year. If it reaches its goal, Aramco Trading would rival Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent trader, which trades about 7 million barrels a day of crude and products.

Fujairah has been a scene of regional tension this month after four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged in alleged sabotage attacks while offshore from the port.