Aramco IPO to Change Face of OPEC

Saudi Arabia’s plans to float state oil titan Aramco are prompting the country to think the unthinkable.

Late last year, Saudi Arabia tried to get fellow oil producers around the world to agree to reduce production. Before an OPEC meeting in Vienna in November, Saudi officials were armed with an unprecedented bargaining chip: if there was no deal, the kingdom would quit the exporter group altogether.

The strategy was approved at the highest level of the Saudi government, said sources familiar with the matter.

It was not only aimed at ensuring the smooth workings of the world’s energy supply. It was also driven by a desire to push up oil prices to maximize the valuation of Saudi Aramco ahead of the listing, said the sources who declined to be named as the information is confidential.

In the end, the world’s biggest oil exporter did not have to enact that option. OPEC members along with non-OPEC producers including Russia agreed a deal in December to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day.

But the fact such a move was considered shows how Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) – expected to be the biggest in history – is forcing the kingdom to rethink its OPEC policies.

Riyadh’s stance represented a shift, OPEC sources said, from its decades-old role of advocating restraint and seeking to convince fellow members like Algeria, Venezuela and Iran that prices rising too fast benefited alternative energy providers.

Reuters

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Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza