Saudi Aramco signs preliminary gas deal with Shell

Saudi Aramco has signed a preliminary deal to pursue international gas opportunities with Royal Dutch Shell. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Saudi Aramco signs preliminary gas deal with Shell

LONDON/DUBAI: State oil giant Saudi Aramco signed a preliminary deal to pursue international gas opportunities with Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday as part of top crude exporter Saudi Arabia’s diversification drive before the listing of Aramco.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in London between the two companies was during the official visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Britain, and would include gas upstream and liquefaction projects.
“It is a discussion that began some time ago and now we have signed a memorandum to work on gas projects from upstream to downstream across the world and in Saudi Arabia. Concrete projects would be announced in due course,” Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden told Reuters after the signing ceremony.
Last year, industry sources told Reuters Saudi Arabia and international oil companies had discussed gas venture opportunities inside the Kingdom and abroad.
Aramco is gearing up for a share listing later this year, aiming to get a valuation of up to $2 trillion in what could be the world’s biggest initial public offering (IPO).
The Kingdom has a long-term goal of increasing the use of gas for domestic power generation, thus reducing oil burning at home and freeing up more crude for export.
Expanding its gas portfolio inside the Kingdom as well as abroad could help increase Aramco’s valuation as it generates more revenue from exports than selling oil at lower domestic prices — Saudi Arabia is the world’s fifth-biggest oil consumer despite being only the 20th-biggest economy.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, who is also Aramco’s chairman, had said Aramco was interested in investing in international upstream ventures, particularly gas, and could invest in importing gas into the kingdom.
Diversifying gas assets abroad would help Aramco achieve a better valuation and is attractive for investors, industry sources has said. Riyadh also plans to raise domestic gas prices, a move seen as an incentive for foreign companies.
Aramco controls gas reserves in excess of 8 trillion cubic meters, according to BP’s annual energy review. The Saudi company has said it wants to explore for gas in the shallow waters of the Red Sea as well as onshore shale gas.


Saudi pledges ‘measurable’ oil supply boost as OPEC, Russia agree deal

Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi pledges ‘measurable’ oil supply boost as OPEC, Russia agree deal

  • OPEC agreed with Russia and other oil-producing allies to raise output from July
  • The green light was widely expected after energy ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries already agreed on Friday to raise output by one million barrels a day

VIENNA: OPEC agreed with Russia and other oil-producing allies on Saturday to raise output from July, with Saudi Arabia pledging a “measurable” supply boost but giving no specific numbers.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had announced an OPEC-only production agreement on Friday, also without clear output targets. Benchmark Brent oil rose by $2.5 or 3.4 percent on the day to $75.55 a barrel.
On Saturday, non-OPEC oil producers agreed to participate in the pact but a communique issued after their talks with the Vienna-based group provided no concrete numbers amid deep disagreements between OPEC arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
US President Donald Trump was among those wondering how much more oil OPEC would deliver. “Hope OPEC will increase output substantially. Need to keep prices down!” Trump wrote on Twitter after OPEC announced its Friday decision.
The United States, China and India had urged oil producers to release more supply to prevent an oil deficit that could undermine global economic growth.
OPEC and non-OPEC said in their statement that they would raise supply by returning to 100 percent compliance with previously agreed output cuts, after months of overproduction.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said OPEC and non-OPEC combined would pump roughly an extra 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in coming months, equal to 1 percent of global supply.
Top global exporter Saudi Arabia will increase output by hundreds of thousands of barrels, he said, with exact figures to be decided later.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said his country would add 200,000 bpd in the second half of this year.
Asked to what extent the decision to increase supply had been driven by pressure from Trump, Novak said: “It is obvious that we are not being driven by tweets but base our actions on deep market analysis.”
IRAN, SAUDI DISAGREEMENT
Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, had demanded OPEC reject calls from Trump for an increase in oil supply, arguing that he had contributed to a recent rise in prices by imposing sanctions on Iran and fellow member Venezuela.
Trump slapped fresh sanctions on Tehran in May and market watchers expect Iran’s output to drop by a third by the end of 2018. That means the country has little to gain from a deal to raise output, unlike Saudi Arabia.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said the real increase could amount to as little as 500,000 bpd because Saudi Arabia would not be allowed to pump more on behalf of Venezuela, where output has collapsed in recent months.
“Each country which has produced less (than its allocation) can produce more. Those which cannot, will not... This means that Saudi Arabia can increase its production by less than 100,000 bpd,” Zanganeh told Argus Media.
But Falih said pro-rata quota reallocations did not have to be strict, meaning Saudi wanted to fill the gaps left by others.
“Some of the countries ... are not going to be able to produce, so the others will. And that implies there will be indirectly a reallocation,” Falih said.
He also said OPEC could hold an extraordinary meeting before its next formal talks due on Dec. 3 or adjust deliveries in September, when its monitoring committee meets, if global oil supply fell further because of sanctions on Iran.
OPEC and its allies have since last year been participating in a pact to cut output by 1.8 million bpd. The measure had helped rebalance the market in the past 18 months and lifted oil to around $75 per barrel from as low as $27 in 2016.
But unexpected outages in Venezuela, Libya and Angola have effectively brought supply cuts to around 2.8 million bpd in recent months.
Falih has warned the world could face a supply deficit of up to 1.8 million bpd in the second half of 2018.
“Both Saudi and Iran can show that they won,” an OPEC delegate said.
“Zanganeh can go back to his country and say ‘I won’, because we are keeping the original agreement unchanged. Falih can go back and say ‘we will be able to raise production to meet market needs’.”
The United States, which rivals Russia and Saudi Arabia for the position of world No.1 oil producer, is not participating in the supply pact.