Saudi Aramco Selects US Firms To Audit Its Reserves For IPO

Saudi Aramco Selects US Firms To Audit Its Reserves For IPO
Saudi Aramco tasks 2 US industry leaders in oil reserves auditing to review the content of its deposits as it pushes ahead with a share listing next year.


DUBAI/KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia/LONDON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco has tasked two U.S. industry leaders in oil reserves auditing to review the content of its deposits as it pushes ahead with a share listing next year, industry sources said on Thursday.

Aramco, whose fields are estimated to contain 15 percent of the world's oil, has asked a unit of oilservices firm Baker Hughes - Gaffney, Cline and Associates - to carry out the review, three sources familiar with the move told Reuters.

Two separate sources said Aramco had also asked Dallas-based DeGolyer and MacNaughton, one of the world's oldest names in reserves auditing, to perform some work.

Baker Hughes and Aramco declined to comment. DeGolyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The listing, expected to be the world's biggest initial public offering (IPO), is a centrepiece of a Saudi Arabian government plan to transform the kingdom by enticing investment and diversifying the economy away from a reliance on oil.

Aramco, once U.S.-based and run by Americans, has long been a Saudi state corporation. It dwarfs all others in the industry by production and reserves, with crude reserves of 265 billion barrels.

The plan to list Aramco, the kingdom's crown jewel, is being championed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who oversees energy and economic policy in the world's top oil-exporting nation.

He is leading a reform drive, called Vision 2030, to address falling oil revenue and fiscal deficits by boosting the private sector, ending government waste and diversifying the economy.

Last year, Prince Mohammed said he expected the IPO would value Aramco at a minimum of $2 trillion, but that he thought the figure might end up higher.

Any valuation would account for oil price expectations and the size of Saudi Arabia's proven crude reserves.

Industry sources say the right to own the reserves is a sovereign issue retained by the Saudi government, while Aramco is most likely to keep its concession, meaning it would have direct access to those reserves with sole rights of exploration and production.

The main question is how much of the oil reserves would be reflected in Aramco's financial books after an independent audit as a result of the concession, the sources say.

"Aramco is in talks with a company to audit its reserves and another one to audit its finances," another Saudi-based industry source said.

"Whether (all) the oil reserves would be IPO-ed or not, that's still being discussed."


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