Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia would likely carry out an initial public offering for Saudi Aramco in 2021 after it builds up some downstream assets including petrochemical production, Khalid Al-Falih, the country's energy minister, said.
"If you look at the downstream of Aramco it is significant, but is not at the same level as upstream. Our petrochemical portfolio also is not so large, and is not so strong in terms of technology and global reach. So the decision was made that Aramco needs to balance its portfolio," Al-Falih told Russian state news agency Tass.
While Aramco is the world's largest company in the upstream, with production of about 14 million barrels of oil equivalent per day and 260 billion barrels of oil, as well as 300 trillion cubic feet of gas as reserves, the downstream needs development, he said.
"If in the next oil cycle the prices for the upstream go down, the downstream will be able to create a very healthy return," Al-Falih added.
Saudi Aramco plans to buy 70 percent of Saudi Arabian petrochemical producer Sabic "and this deal will take at least 18 months," he said.
"Only after that we could share the information about the financial benefits of the deal with investors," he added. He also mentioned an already announced plan for a joint venture with Total to build petrochemical production infrastructure.
Aramco has a target of 3 million barrels per day to convert into chemicals and "it does not necessarily have to be all Saudi oil," he said.
Saudi Arabia's plans for an IPO of Saudi Aramco were halted in August.
Aramco's website includes several press releases issued in recent months that aim at developing chemical production infrastructure as the Kingdom seeks to add value to its crude oil and natural gas output.