Saudi Arabia is likely targeting oil prices at $80 a barrel to boost the valuation of its oil giant Aramco ahead of its much-hyped IPO and to help finance increasingly ambitious domestic policy plans, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people who have spoken to Saudi officials.
Although Saudi officials have been careful not to point to a specific oil price target in private discussions over the past month, “the inescapable conclusion from the conversations was that Riyadh is aiming for $80,” according to the people who spoke to Bloomberg on the condition of anonymity.
A couple of months ago, Saudi Arabia was reportedly targeting oil at $70, but that was before Riyadh admitted that Aramco’s initial public offering could take place in 2019, instead of in the second half of 2018, as it has been planned for years.
In an interview with Time magazine last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—the proponent of the Saudi economic overhaul to diversify from oil—for the first time linked oil prices with the Aramco IPO.
Asked about the delayed listing, the Crown Prince said:
“We do not delay it. We said we will be ready to IPO around 2018. And we are ready. We did all the laws. We did all the steps that are making us ready to IPO it. Now it’s a matter of choosing the right time. So we believe oil prices will get higher in this year and also get higher in 2019, so we are trying to pick the right time. But we are ready to IPO it now if the time is right.” Related: Russia Wants To Drop Dollar For Oil Payments
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has also recently signaled that the Kingdom would rather overtighten the market instead of leaving the job of erasing the glut undone.
In February al-Falih said that “If we have to err on over-balancing the market a little bit, so be it.”
According to Bloomberg’s sources, however, the Saudi ambitions for oil at $80 is not shared by all OPEC members, because some of them are worried—privately—that the Saudis are targeting too high an oil price that could further boost U.S. shale production.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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