Saudi Aramco builds new retail network, certifies reserves

By Renzo Pipoli   |   Jan. 10, 2019 at 8:33 AM
An artist's rendering shows what Saudi Aramco's flagship service stations would look like. The company is constructing up a retail network as it moves forward with plans to build up the downstream side of its business. Photo courtesy of Saudi Aramco

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia's Aramco has created a retail network under its name to sell automotive and aviation fuel, as well as certified reserves through a third party, in moves that coincide with reported plans for an Initial Public Offering.

The Dallas-based consultants DeGolyer and MacNaughton certified reserves in Saudi Aramco's concession area, as of the end of 2017, at 263.2 billion barrels of oil, or 2.2 billion barrels higher than a previous estimate, according to a Wednesday report by SaudiGazette.

Natural gas reserves in Saudi Aramco's concession area were certified at 319.5 trillion standard cubic feet of gas, a 5.6 percent increase from the previous estimate.

Once the Kingdom's share of a Partitioned Zone jointly owned by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are added, Saudi Arabia's total proven oil reserves can be estimated at 266.1 billion barrels of oil and 324.4 trillion standard cubic feet of gas.

"This independent third-party certification is in line with the Kingdom's Vision 2030, which promotes transparency, accuracy, and quality," the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih was quoted as saying.

Separately, a Wednesday statement by Saudi Aramco reported advances in plans to build its downstream, saying it also aligned with the Vision 2030 strategy.

"The first step was creating the new subsidiary, RetailCo, to cater to all fuel retail activities in the Kingdom," the company said in a Wednesday release.

Saudi Aramco will build a network of fuel stations in Saudi Arabia based on two formats, with some locations in highways offering services including a convenience store and food, and inner city locations with more limited offers. RetailCo will also separately retail aviation fuel.

"Saudi Aramco has conducted due diligence to ensure its entry into the customer-facing segment of the downstream industry will be successful," it said.

Saudi Aramco has been in the global fuel retail business through partnerships with companies such as "Motiva in the United States, Showa-Shell in Japan, S-Oil in South Korea, and FREP and SSPC in China."

This global experience placed the company in position "to confidently enter" the market, and the plan is aligned in the country strategy Saudi Vision 2030, it added.

The so-called Saudi Vision 2030 strategy targets diversification and improving competitiveness with efforts by the country's state oil company to increase its downstream activities that can create added value, such as through petrochemicals production and retailing. The aim is to help diversify from natural resource exports, which is the main business.

In October Al-Falih said that Saudi Arabia would likely carry out an initial public offering for Saudi Aramco in 2021, after building some downstream assets.

While Aramco is the world's largest company in the upstream, with production of about 14 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, it needed to "balance its portfolio" by building on the downstream to create more value ahead of an initial public offering, he said at the time.

Saudi Arabia's plans for an IPO of Saudi Aramco were halted in August. The company had intended to list in an international public exchange a 5 percent stake in the company in 2018.

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