DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The world's largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, said Friday it was reviewing the potential to list its shares on the public market for the first time.
Officially known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the company said it would allow "broad public participation" in its shares through an initial public offering. Once a study on the possibility is completed, the state-run company said it would present results to the board of directors, which would then make its recommendation to the government.
"This proposal is consistent with the broad and progressive direction pursued by the Kingdom for reforms, including privatization in various sectors of the Saudi economy and deregulation of markets, which the company strongly supports," the company said in a statement.
With a daily production capacity rivaling the whole of the United States, the company's value may be too big to estimate. The company in its statement said the move is aimed at strengthening its focus on becoming a long-term leader in the global energy sector.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said last week the kingdom was standing by current policies to remain a reliable crude oil supplier to the global economy, even as demand wanes amid weak recovery.
Slumping demand, exacerbated by the glut of crude oil on the market, is keeping crude oil prices depressed. That leaves exporting nations like Saudi Arabia struggling to balance the books.
"This budget also comes amid challenging international and regional economic and financial conditions, namely a global economic slowdown in growth," it added.
The government said it was embracing a set of policies and structural reforms meant to reduce the economic dependency on oil. Part of the five-year reform policy includes the privatization of some sectors of the Saudi economy.