Saudi Aramco sells oil pipeline stake for $12.4 billion
By Stanley Reed
Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, has reached a deal to raise $12.4 billion from the sale of a 49% stake in a pipeline-rights company.
The money will come from a consortium led by EIG Global Energy Partners, a Washington-based investor in pipelines and other energy infrastructure.
Under the arrangement announced Friday, the investor group will buy 49% of a new company called Aramco Oil Pipelines, which will have the rights to 25 years of payments from Aramco for transporting oil through Saudi Arabia’s pipeline networks.
Aramco is under pressure from its main owner, the Saudi government, to generate cash to finance state operations as well as investments like new cities to diversify the economy away from oil.
The company has pledged to pay $75 billion in annual dividends, nearly all to the government, as well as other taxes.
Last year, the dividends came to well in excess of the company’s net income of $49 billion.
Recently, Aramco was tapped by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s main policymaker, to lead a new domestic investment drive to build up the Saudi economy.
The pipeline sale “reinforces Aramco’s role as a catalyst for attracting significant foreign investment into the Kingdom,” Aramco said in a statement.
From Saudi Arabia’s perspective, the deal has the virtue of raising money up front without giving up control. Aramco will own a 51% majority share in the pipeline company and “retain full ownership and operational control” of the pipes the company said.
Aramco said Saudi Arabia would retain control over how much oil the company produces.
Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich neighbor, has struck similar oil and gas deals with outside investors.