Aramco IPO preparations ‘progressing well’ but final decision lies with shareholder

Saudi Aramco's CEO Amin Nasser told a gathering of energy industry peers in Houston: ‘The IPO is progressing well. We became a joint stock company at the beginning of this year, so it is all progressing.’ (Reuters)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Aramco IPO preparations ‘progressing well’ but final decision lies with shareholder

HOUSTON: Preparations for the initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Aramco are going well but final decisions on timing of the share sale and the venue for any listing other than the Tadawul in Riyadh have yet to be taken, according to the government-owned energy giant’s CEO.
Amin Nasser told a gathering of energy industry peers at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston: “The IPO is progressing well. We became a joint stock company at the beginning of this year, so it is all progressing.
“But the big questions that are being asked — where and when will we list in addition to the Tadawul — are decisions for the shareholder and it is up to the shareholder to decide those questions.”
The conference was shown a copy of the telegram sent 80 years ago this week to announced that oil had been discovered at Aramco’s original well in Dhahran, which marks the origin of the company.
Daniel Yergin, founder of CERA, said that within six months Saudi Arabia became the 26th biggest oil producer in the world. Today Aramco is the biggest oil exporter and has the biggest reserves of any oil company.
Nasser said Aramco regards gas as a “very significant growth area” and he was trying to “capture growth areas in different parts of the world.” There has been speculation Aramco might do gas deals with Russian and even that it would but shale assets in the US.
In his speech from the podium, Nasser said that the original geologists in 1938 “always seemed to know where to go next, and what it would take to get there,” adding that he was also clear about the future of the oil industry.
He said that global oil demand continued to remain healthy, and that major producers were continuing to “show restraint” in supplying oil. He added that there were “multiple downside geopolitical risks to supply.”
But he added: “I am not unduly concerned about the recent volatility and expect the market to strengthen once the seasonal factors begin to fade.”
On the future of the industry, which some analysts say is in long-term decline because of the development of alternative energy sources, he said: “I am not losing any sleep over ‘peak oil demand’ or ‘stranded resources’.”
Nasser also warned that the oil market faces “multiple downside political risks,” and needs $20 trillion of investment over the next 25 years — the size of the American economy.
“Today I want to be clear about what really lies ahead for our industry, and the actions we must take to secure that future,” he said.
“We must leave people in no doubt that misplaced notions of ‘peak oil demandʼ and ‘stranded resourcesʼ are direct threats to an orderly energy transition and energy security,” he said, adding: “Oil and gas will continue to play a major role in a world where all energy sources will be required for the foreseeable future.”
Nasser pointed to flaws in all the various alternatives that have been advocated as future energy sources.
“The hot topic in energy transition is the future role of oil in transport. At the heart of it is the light duty road passenger vehicles segment (cars) that accounts for about 20 percent of global oil demand today. Many wrongly believe that it is a simple matter of electric vehicles quickly and smoothly replacing the internal combustion engine,” he said.
The future for alternatives to the motor car and internal combustion engine was “far more complex,” he said.


Iran looms large over OPEC summit

Updated 26 min 20 sec ago
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Iran looms large over OPEC summit

  • Saudi Arabia only country in Mideast, and perhaps world, with enough capacity to keep market supplied, say experts
  • At Algiers, Opec and leading non-Opec countries are expected to discuss how to allocate supply increases to offset a shortage of Iran supplies

LONDON: The Opec summit in Algiers on Sunday meets amid widespread fears of a supply crunch when a forecast 1.4 million barrels a day of crude is lost from Iran in November when US sanctions kick in.
If, on top of that, more supply shocks hit the market in worse-than-expected disruption from Libya and Iraq, the price of crude could surge, said Andy Critchlow, head of energy news at S&P Global Platts. “At the moment, the market looks finely balanced,” he said.
There isn’t a lot of slack in the system. As Critchlow points out: “Upstream investment in infrastructure and new wells is historically low and it will take a long time to turn that around.”
At Algiers, Opec and leading non-Opec countries are expected to discuss how to allocate supply increases to offset a shortage of Iran supplies. The gathering comes after a tweet by President Trump on Sept. 20 calling on Opec to lower prices. He said on Twitter that “they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for a higher and higher oil price.”
Critchlow reckoned KSA still had spare capacity of about 2 million bpd. And KSA would get oil back as they go into winter as it had needed 800,000m bpd merely to generate electricity for the home market to meet heightened demand for air conditioning in the summer.
But there is uncertainty about what will come out of Algiers. For a start, the Iranians say they will not attend. That could be tricky in terms of an Opec communique at the end of the meeting as statements need unanimous support from member nations. And Iran has indicated it will veto any move that would affect Iran’s position, ie, one where other countries absorb its market share as sanctions bite.
Jason Gammel, energy analyst at London broker Jefferies, said: “The magnitude of the drop in Iranian exports is likely to be higher than any hit in demand as a result of problems linked to emerging market currencies, or trade wars. That’s why we expect oil prices to continue to strengthen. The Saudis and their partners will keep the market well supplied, and I think the issue is that the level of spare capacity in the system will be extremely low. Any threat or interruption will mean price spikes. Possibly by the end of the year demand will exceed supply; for now, the market remains in balance, but threats of supply disruption will bring volatility.”
Under the spotlight in Algiers is a production cuts accord forged by Opec and 11 other countries in 2016 which has been extended to the end of this year. The agreement helped reboot prices and obliterate inventory stockpiles that led to the crash in crude prices nearly three years ago. But how long will the agreement last? Algiers may kick that one into the long grass.
Thomson Reuters analysts Ehsan Ul-Haq and Tom Kenison told Arab News: “OPEC members would like to maintain cohesion within the group around supply ahead of Iran sanctions and declining Venezuela production, However, they are expected be in favor of maintaining stability in prices while doing so. On the other hand, they need to find a consensus around how their market share would be affected by a decision to pump more oil in the market. Any decision around production will likely be offset until the November meeting.”
Critchlow said that it is what KSA and Russia say and do that matters. “They speak for a fifth of the global oil market, producing a combined total of 22m bpd.” Together, they are the swing producers when it comes to crude production and supply.
Another factor about Algiers is that it is a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, which is not a policy-making forum. Big policy statements may have to wait for the main Opec summit in Vienna at the end of year. That said, there will be some very high-level delegations in Algiers, including the Saudi oil minister and his Russian counterpart.
A statement about the demand picture could emerge, especially as there are fears about the impact on the global economy from the US-China tariff war.
Looking to the future, Critchlow thought the Opec production cuts accord would carry on into 2019. “Oil priced between $70/bbl and $80/bbl is a sweet spot for Middle East producers. Its’s good for Saudi as it helps stop further drainage of their foreign reserves and moves the budget back toward balance. Do they want (the price) to go higher? I think that would cause a lot of political problems for them.”