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Aramco To Sell Pipeline Stake To EIG For $12 Billion

Saudi Aramco has reached an agreement with a consortium led by U.S. EIG Global Energy Partners to sell it a 49-percent stake in Aramco Oil Pipelines Co.

Aramco Oil Pipelines Co. is a new business entity, formed to keep—or trade—the rights to 25 years of payments of rates for crude transportation across Aramco's pipeline network. According to EIG, as quoted by Bloomberg, the entity has an equity value of some $25 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month Aramco was considering the stake sale, eyeing proceeds of between $10 and $15 billion. Apollo Global Management and the Chinese Silk Road Fund were rumored to be among the possible buyers.

Reports emerged as early as last October that Aramco was in early talks to potentially structure a deal worth more than $10 billion to sell a part of its pipeline business to asset managers, including the world's biggest, BlackRock.

This February, media reported that the company was discussing with lenders the idea of offering $10 billion to potential buyers to motivate potential buyers. Reports also said the prospective buyers were also looking to finance up to $10 billion of a deal's price through loans.

The sale is the latest move by Riyadh to compensate for the sharp decline in oil revenues because of the pandemic and the resulting oil price crash by divesting assets, including assets as critical as its pipeline network.

The Saudi state giant, which owns the network along with all other oil assets in the Kingdom, booked a 50-percent drop in profits for 2020 under the weight of demand destruction and the price collapse.

This may jeopardize Riyadh's plans for economic diversification laid out in the Vision 2030 plan despite the government's assurances that the plan is going ahead. Even with the latest sustained price rally, oil remains too low for Saudi Arabia's comfort, which appears to be around $80 per barrel.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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