Aramco’s shipping division has issued an expression of interest in the chartering of up to a dozen LNG carriers beginning in 2025, Reuters reports, citing industry sources.
Liquefied natural gas is a big part of Aramco’s diversification efforts seeking to reduce its almost exclusive dependence on crude oil exports through a bigger focus on natural gas and petrochemicals.
The company’s expansion into natural gas will be an international endeavor, Aramco said earlier this year during its first-ever investor conference call. A few months earlier, the Saudi company sealed a deal with Sempra Energy to buy 5 million tons of LNG annually from Sempra’s Port Arthur plant.
The Port Arthur facility has yet to be built and Aramco has also negotiated a 25-percent stake purchase in its first phase of development. The project includes the construction of two liquefaction trains along with up to three storage tanks and the relevant infrastructure.
Later this year, in November, Aramco also inked a contract with the Bangladesh Power Development Board for the supply of LNG to the energy-hungry country, to be used for power generation.
Asia is an obvious destination for Saudi Arabia’s future LNG exports, and Aramco is looking at investment opportunities to source this LNG from across the world, from Australia to Russia, and also in Africa: the three hot spots in LNG today.
The company also has plans to step up its domestic natural gas production and replace some of the oil it uses for power generation with gas, so it can sell more oil abroad.
For now, the Sempra Energy Port Arthur deal is the only one finalized, however, when it comes to supply. There are no details about Aramco’s LNG interests in Australia and Africa, and its plans to take a stake in Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project have yet to come to fruition.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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