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U.S. Auditors To Assess Oil Reserves For Aramco IPO

Ghawar oil field

In view of its IPO expected in 2018, Saudi Aramco has hired a unit of Baker Hughes and a Dallas-based reserves auditing firm to look into how much oil reserves the Saudi state-held giant really has, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing industry sources.

Saudi Aramco has tasked Baker Hughes’ energy consulting services unit Gaffney, Cline & Associates, as well as Dallas-based DeGolyer and MacNaughton, to perform the reserves auditing, various sources have told Reuters.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which first broke the news today of Aramco hiring Gaffney, Cline & Associates, Saudi Aramco had hired Gaffney, Cline & Associates late last year and its audit is now complete.

According to Aramco’s own estimates, unconfirmed by the independent auditors, the Saudi oil giant has 261.1 billion barrels of crude oil and condensate reserves.

Ahead of the planned share listing, however, Saudi Aramco has to present an independent review of how much oil reserves it has. This would mean that one of the oil world’s longest and best kept secrets may finally be revealed.

Aramco’s IPO, expected for next year, is part of Saudi Arabia’s longer-term plans to attract investments and diversify its economy away from too much reliance on oil revenues.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that Saudi Aramco had sent requests for proposals to several investment banks that could become advisers in the initial public offering. The list of potential candidates includes both big international joints and small banks. According to Bloomberg, Aramco already has two advisers on board for the listing, JPMorgan, and Michael Klein, a former Citigroup investment banker.

Plans announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year involve a sale of less than 5 percent of the state oil company, which should fetch around US$100 billion, according to government estimates. Saudi Arabia is grappling with a substantial budget deficit brought on by the oil price crash from 2014.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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