Market rules ready for Aramco listing ‘by end of June’

Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil processing facility, 160 km east of the capital Riyadh. The Kingdom has been overhauling its stock market rules to prepare for the local listing of state-owned Aramco. (AFP)
Updated 30 March 2018
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Market rules ready for Aramco listing ‘by end of June’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia expects to unveil by the end of June rules to prevent large share price drops in newly-listed companies, the final regulatory step for the listing of oil giant Saudi Aramco, the head of the kingdom’s stock market regulator said.

The mechanism, known as price stabilization, is common on developed markets and allows underwriters of an initial public offering (IPO) to use some of the company’s stock to bolster its price, should it fall in the days after it starts trading, or the volume of shares changing hands is weak.

The Kingdom has been overhauling its stock market rules to prepare for the local listing of state-owned Aramco, which is hoping to raise $100 billion or more through a 5 percent stake sale later this year.

Saudi authorities have also said they want Aramco, whose IPO is billed as the world’s largest, to have an international listing, although no decision has been made on the location. This listing could be delayed until Aramco starts trading on the Tadawul, as the Saudi stock exchange is known.

The Capital Market Authority (CMA) issued updated rules in the last couple of months covering how securities are sold in the kingdom and how the offer price of an IPO is calculated using the bookbuild method, Mohammed El Kuwaiz, chairman of the market regulator, told a media event in New York late Wednesday.

“Once (the price stabilization guideline) is issued, we can then say that the Saudi market will be fully amenable to accommodate an offering of the size of Saudi Aramco, or indeed of any size,” he said.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the event, El Kuwaiz said drafting of the regulation was at “an advanced stage,” and it will be issued before the end of the first half of the year.

The CMA was also expecting to start work by the end of the year on rules governing dual-listings on the Saudi stock market that would be sent out for market feedback early in 2019, El Kuwaiz said.

The timetable could be brought forward if a company approached it wanting to list on another market, he added.


US says conserving oil is no longer an economic imperative

Updated 19 August 2018
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US says conserving oil is no longer an economic imperative

  • Fears of oil scarcity no longer driver of US energy policy
  • Surging shale production brings energy abundance

WASHINGTON: Conserving oil is no longer an economic imperative for the US, the Trump administration declares in a major new policy statement that threatens to undermine decades of government campaigns for gas-thrifty cars and other conservation programs.
The position was outlined in a memo released last month in support of the administration’s proposal to relax fuel mileage standards. The government released the memo online this month without fanfare.
Growth of natural gas and other alternatives to petroleum has reduced the need for imported oil, which “in turn affects the need of the nation to conserve energy,” the Energy Department said. It also cites the now decade-old fracking revolution that has unlocked US shale oil reserves, giving “the United States more flexibility than in the past to use our oil resources with less concern.”
With the memo, the administration is formally challenging old justifications for conservation — even congressionally prescribed ones, as with the mileage standards. The memo made no mention of climate change. Transportation is the single largest source of climate-changing emissions.
President Donald Trump has questioned the existence of climate change, embraced the notion of “energy dominance” as a national goal, and called for easing what he calls burdensome regulation of oil, gas and coal, including repealing the Obama Clean Power Plan.
Despite the increased oil supplies, the administration continues to believe in the need to “use energy wisely,” the Energy Department said, without elaboration. Department spokesmen did not respond Friday to questions about that statement.
Reaction was quick.
“It’s like saying, ‘I’m a big old fat guy, and food prices have dropped — it’s time to start eating again,’” said Tom Kloza, longtime oil analyst with the Maryland-based Oil Price Information Service.
“If you look at it from the other end, if you do believe that fossil fuels do some sort of damage to the atmosphere ... you come up with a different viewpoint,” Kloza said. “There’s a downside to living large.”
Climate change is a “clear and present and increasing danger,” said Sean Donahue, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund.
In a big way, the Energy Department statement just acknowledges the world’s vastly changed reality when it comes to oil.
Just 10 years ago, in summer 2008, oil prices were peaking at $147 a barrel and pummeling the global economy. OPEC was enjoying a massive transfer of wealth, from countries dependent on imported oil. Prices now are about $65.
Today, the US is vying with Russia for the title of top world oil producer. US oil production hit an all-time high this summer, aided by the technological leaps of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
How much the US economy is hooked up to the gas pump, and vice versa, plays into any number of policy considerations, not just economic or environmental ones, but military and geopolitical ones, said John Graham, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, now dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.
“Our ability to play that role as a leader in the world is stronger when we are the strongest producer of oil and gas,” Graham said. “But there are still reasons to want to reduce the amount we consume.”
Current administration proposals include one that would freeze mileage standards for cars and light trucks after 2020, instead of continuing to make them tougher.
The proposal eventually would increase US oil consumption by 500,000 barrels a day, the administration says. While Trump officials say the freeze would improve highway safety, documents released this month showed senior Environmental Protection Agency staffers calculate the administration’s move would actually increase highway deaths.
“American businesses, consumers and our environment are all the losers under his plan,” said Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat. “The only clear winner is the oil industry. It’s not hard to see whose side President Trump is on.”
Administration support has been tepid to null on some other long-running government programs for alternatives to gas-powered cars.
Bill Wehrum, assistant administration of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, spoke dismissively of electric cars — a young industry supported financially by the federal government and many states — this month in a call with reporters announcing the mileage freeze proposal.
“People just don’t want to buy them,” the EPA official said.
Oil and gas interests are campaigning for changes in government conservation efforts on mileage standards, biofuels and electric cars.
In June, for instance, the American Petroleum Institute and other industries wrote eight governors, promoting the dominance of the internal-combustion engine and questioning their states’ incentives to consumers for electric cars.
Surging US and gas production has brought on “energy security and abundance,” Frank Macchiarola, a group director of the American Petroleum Institute trade association, told reporters this week, in a telephone call dedicated to urging scrapping or overhauling of one US program for biofuels.
Fears of oil scarcity used to be a driver of US energy policy, Macchiarola said.
Thanks partly to increased production, “that pillar has really been rendered essentially moot,” he said.