Saudi Aramco signs energy deals worth nearly $4.5 bln

Riyadh: Saudi Aramco today signed agreements worth nearly USD 4.5 billion with multinational oil and gas contractors, in what the company dubbed as an effort to diversify the economy.

The deals were signed with companies including Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas, Italy’s Saipem, China Petroleum Pipeline and Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Construction.

The investments “reflect our concerted effort… to diversify our economy, promote local manufacturing, support a sustainable environment and strengthen our business and investment climate”, Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser was quoted as saying in a statement.

Saudi Arabia last year announced plans to sell under five percent of Aramco, the kingdom’s crown jewel, in what is expected to be the world’s largest ever initial public offering.

The plan forms the cornerstone of a reform programme envisaged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to wean the economy off its reliance on oil.

It could generate much-needed revenue after the country lost hundreds of billions of dollars since crude prices slumped in mid-2014, leading to huge budget deficits and withdrawals from strategic reserves.

Analysts, however, have voiced misgivings following recent media reports that the flotation could be shelved amid concerns over its feasibility.

Nasser last month shot down the reports, saying the IPO will happen as scheduled in the second half of 2018.