Saudi Aramco reshuffled its senior management and created a division focused on “portfolio optimization” as the world’s biggest oil producer adapts to low crude prices and seeks new ways to obtain cash.
Over 98% of the company is owned by the Saudi government and is the main source of revenues for the Saudi Arabian government. The group’s dividends play a critical role in helping the Saudi government to manage its fiscal deficit.
The company appointed Senior Vice President Abdulaziz Al GUDAIMI to lead a new team that will “assess existing assets” and boosts access to “growth markets” it said on August 23 in a statement. He will report to Chief Executive Officer Amin NASSER and will start in his new role on September 13.
Aramco is adjusting to lower energy prices as the coronavirus pandemic hammers the global economy, with Brent crude has fallen 32% this year to around $45 a barrel. The rapid spread of COVID-19 globally had significantly reduced demand for crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products.
The company slashed the investments to fulfill the pledge to pay a dividend of $75 billion in 2020 even while piling on debt.
Iman NASSERI, managing director for the Middle East at oil-consulting firm FGE said: “They have a lot of expansion projects on the table, so they need to manage these and make sure they’re not overdoing it, especially in the current oil-price environment”.
“It all goes back to the need to maintain the promise of paying $75 billion in dividends”.
Aramco hired advisers for a potential multi-billion-dollar sale of a stake in its pipeline business. Chairman Yasir Al-RUMAYYAN said in February there were also non-core assets that could be monetized.
In a potential sign of Aramco’s changing priorities as it tries to preserve cash, the company suspended a $10 billion project to build a refinery in China, Bloomberg reported last week. The project was unveiled with great fanfare last year. Aramco said in a statement on August 24 it was still working with its Chinese partners and committed to the Chinese market.
To fulfill its dividend commitment, the producer may pull out of a planned refinery in India in favor of a separate $15 billion downstream project with Reliance Industries Ltd., NASSERI said.
Aramco didn’t comment on the appointments to the upstream and downstream businesses.
This article was edited using the data from the Businesstoday.in, Business-standard.com, Bloomberg.com, and Aljazeera.com.