Saudi Aramco’s split from the energy ministry was ‘best move’: Prince Abdulaziz

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Saudi Arabia’s decision to split the Ministry of Energy from state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco is the “best thing” that the Kingdom has done, the Kingdom’s newly appointed energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in some of his first public comments on Monday.

“I think the best thing that we have done in Saudi Arabia was to ensure the commerciality of the company and so called arms-length relationship between the company, as a company owned by the state, and enabling the company to work as nothing more than any other international company,” he said at the 24th World Energy Congress conference in Abu Dhabi.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the son of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, on Sunday became the first member of the Saudi royal family to head the Ministry of Energy.

His appointment came just days after the Kingdom’s cabinet approved appointing Public Investment Fund chief Yasir al-Rumayyan as the new chairperson of Saudi Aramco, removing then-energy minister Khalid al-Falih from the position, which he had held since 2015. The series of steps are aimed at preparing Saudi Aramco for its initial public offering (IPO).

The Kingdom is said to be considering a plan to split the IPO into two stages, debuting a portion of its shares on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) later this year, and following up with an international offering in 2020 or 2021.

Prince Abdulaziz noted that the IPO had caused the Saudi government to exert tremendous effort into rethinking their previous strategy of keeping Aramco tied to the energy ministry.

Aramco’s IPO could be the world’s largest, and is expected to be worth nearly $2 trillion, according to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is spearheading the country’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify and strengthen the Kingdom’s economy.

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