Saudi Arabia to put cards on table
LONDON, November 16, 2016 – Saudi Arabia is going to publish independently audited oil reserves figures in an effort to ensure the transparency of Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mines Khalid Al Falih said on Wednesday.
Speaking to the Financial Times, the minister said the Aramco listing would be “the most transparent national oil company listing of all time.” Widely regarded as the industry’s best-kept secret, no third-party has ever been able to verify the reserves managed by Saudi Aramco figures. The officially communicated levels of crude reserves have hovered near 260 billion barrels for more than 35 years. “Everything that Saudi Aramco has, that will be shared, that will be verified by independent third parties,” Al Falih added.
The 2015 reserves figure for the Kingdom in the most recent edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy stands at 266.6 billion barrels, fractionally less than the 267 billion barrels of oil reported for 2014. BP put Saudi Arabia’s reserves-to-production ratio at 60.8 years. The country, in its October 2016 sovereign bond prospectus, reported a figure of around 70 years.
Should a third party be able to confirm the government’s data, be it the reserves-to-production ratio or the apparently near-perfect replacement ratio, it could strengthen Saudi Aramco’s valuation.
In related news, media outlets on Wednesday reported that this week’s informal OPEC gathering in Doha could see a meeting between Al Falih and his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak. Scheduled for Friday, the Saudi minister is also expected to hold talks with other energy ministers in an effort to fine-tune the September Algiers agreement for possible ratification at the November 30 OPEC meeting in Vienna.