SINGAPORE/BRUSSELS - Geneva-based trading house Montfort Group is in discussion to sell part or all of its refining facility in the United Arab Emirates to the fuel oil arm of Chinese state giant Sinopec Corp, at least five industry sources told Reuters.

If reached, a deal would give Sinopec, the world's biggest refiner by capacity, a stronger foothold in the UAE's Fujairah market, which it entered last year amid plans to expand its global presence in the marine fuel market.

Sinopec is considering investment in the refining facility as it seeks to expand its sales at the world's third-largest bunker fuel hub, the sources added.

Sinopec did not respond to a request for comment.

A Montfort spokesperson said the company and its partner in the refinery, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, "remain fully committed" to the business.

"Of course, if we are approached by parties who wish to be involved in our refinery business, we are always willing to discuss such opportunities if we believe that it would enhance and grow our business," the spokesperson said.

Located in the port of Fujairah, the facility can process 65,000 barrels per day of crude, with capacity to sell over 30 million barrels of low-sulphur fuel oil to the shipping industry annually, according to Montfort.

Montfort acquired the crude oil processing and marine fuel trading business last year from Germany's Uniper Energy in a deal valued around $80 million. Montfort holds a Fujairah bunker supplier licence under Montfort Trading FZE.

Sinopec opened an office in Dubai last year for marine fuel trading in Fujairah, though it does not have a bunker licence there.

Sinopec Fuel Oil, the biggest marine bunker supplier at Chinese bunker hub Zhoushan, became the third-largest marine fuel supplier at the world's top bunker hub Singapore in 2023, while expanding its storage capacity in Asia.

The Chinese company has been looking to expand globally as slowing economic growth and rapid adoption of electric vehicles in the world's top auto market dents domestic demand.

(Reporting by Chen Aizhu, Jeslyn Lerh in Singapore, Julia Payne in Brussels; Additional reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov in London and Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Tony Munroe and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)