Total renounces oil survey work off Western Sahara

Updated 21 December 2015

Total renounces oil survey work off Western Sahara

RABAT: French oil giant Total will halt preliminary oil survey work off disputed Western Sahara, a region controlled by Morocco, due to disappointing results, a source said.
“Total has informed the Moroccan authorities that it would not request a new extension of its reconnaissance authorization in the Anzarane block,” said the source.
“The first analysis of seismic data didn’t find anything,” added the source.
However the decision comes less than two weeks after a farm trade deal between the European Union and Morocco was annulled by the EU’s top court because it illegally involved the disputed region of Western Sahara.
It also comes as oil companies are slashing investment as oil prices slide to 11-year lows, making many offshore projects no longer financially attractive.
Total received the contract to conduct geological survey work in the vast 100,000 block off Western Sahara in December 2011 and it was extended to December 2015, according to Total’s website.
The agreement excluded formal exploration work.
“The results of the geological surveys conducted in the Anzarane block... were not encouraging and the reconnaissance authorization will not be transformed into an exploration license,” a Total spokesman told AFP. Total’s work off Western Sahara had been controversial as the region has been disputed since Morocco took control of most of the territory in November 1975 after the end of Spanish colonization, unleashing a war for independence that lasted until 1991.
A UN-brokered cease-fire between Morocco and the Polisario Front, a movement in Western Sahara that has been campaigning for independence for decades with the backing of Morocco’s arch-rival Algeria, has held since then, but UN efforts to organize a referendum on the territory’s future have been resisted by Rabat.
Total insists on its website that independent experts it had consulted said the geological and geophysical works it carried out in the Anzarane block were “not legally in breach with international law or the United Nations charter.”
The Total spokesman said the company remains committed to the Moroccan market, noting in particular its filling station network had listed on the Casablanca stock exchange, as well as discussions on importing liquefied natural gas.

Saudi minister Al-Falih says Aramco IPO likely in 2019

Updated 25 May 2018

Saudi minister Al-Falih says Aramco IPO likely in 2019

  • Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih: “We are ready, the company (Saudi Aramco) essentially has ticked all the boxes. We’re simply waiting for a market readiness for the IPO.”
  • Khalid Al-Falih: “Most likely it will be in 2019 but we will not know until the announcement has been made. All I could say is stay tuned.”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is most likely to hold the initial public offering (IPO) of oil giant Aramco in 2019, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Friday, confirming a delay from the initial plan to list the company this year.

“The timing I think will depend on the readiness of the market, rather than the readiness of the company or the readiness of Saudi Arabia,” Khalid Al-Falih, who’s also the company’s chairman, said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Friday.

“We are ready, the company essentially has ticked all the boxes,” he said. “We’re simply waiting for a market readiness for the IPO.”

For almost two years, Saudi officials said the IPO was “on track, on time” for the second half of 2018. But for the first time in March they suggested it could be delayed until 2019.

“Most likely it will be in 2019 but we will not know until the announcement has been made,” Al-Falih said. “All I could say is stay tuned.”

The Aramco IPO would be a once-in-a-generation event for financial markets. Saudi officials said they hope to raise a record $100 billion by selling a 5 percent stake, valuing the company at more than $2 trillion and dwarfing the $25 billion raised by Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2014.