LONDON: Saudi Arabia has revealed a rise in crude oil reserves following an independent audit, lifting the lid on deposits that have been the subject of intense speculation since the Kingdom revealed plans to sell shares in its national oil company.
The Kingdom’s proven oil and gas reserves stood at around 268.5 billion barrels of oil and 325.1 trillion standard cubic feet of gas as of the end of 2017, the Saudi Energy Ministry said in a statement carried by the SPA state news agency.
It answers a key question for potential investors in the planned share sale of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned company that manages the Kingdom’s vast oil wealth.
“The results point out that the Kingdom’s reserves of oil and gas are bigger than what we have been announcing,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told reporters in Riyadh.
Dallas-based consultants DeGolyer and MacNaughton carried out the audit of the Kingdom’s oil reserves.
The minister also pledged to go ahead with the delayed IPO of Aramco despite speculation that it had been shelved.
He said that Aramco would also issue bonds in the second-quarter of the year and that company financial details would be published as part of that process.
The IPO would follow in 2021, he revealed.
The minister said that Saudi Arabia would cut oil exports next month as it seeks to prevent a glut that could depress prices further.
“We are serious about restoring balance to the market,” he told a press conference in Riyadh “We are concerned about volatility in the oil market. We have seen peaks and drops in prices (that are) completely unjustified by the fundamentals.”
The Kingdom plans to ship about 7.1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February, down from 7.2 million bpd in January.
Turning to Saudi Arabia’s plans to develop nuclear energy, Al-Falih said that the US was a key provider of nuclear technology and that he wanted the US to be “part and parcel” of its nuclear power program.