By Rania El Gamal, Stanley Carvalho and Maha El Dahan
ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Petrochemicals company Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SE:2010) is considering several possible investments in the United States, while state oil giant Saudi Aramco [IPO-ARMO.SE] is looking at gas prospects abroad, Saudi energy minister said on Wednesday.
However, Saudi Aramco’s interest in gas investments is closer to home, probably in Africa or the Mediterranean, Khalid al-Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Abu Dhabi.
“SABIC … is looking at multiple investments in the U.S., taking advantage of this plentiful gas supply, especially ethane, to crack it and create petrochemical products not only for the U.S. but for exports out of the U.S. to grow its markets around the world,” Falih said.
Last month SABIC’s chief executive, Yousef al-Benyan, told Reuters the world’s fourth-biggest petrochemicals company planned to make a decision by the end of next year on an investment in a cracker plant in Texas with an affiliate of Exxon Mobil (N:XOM).
“The U.S. gas (market) is already saturated, there are plenty of investors. I don’t think the U.S. needs further investments from Saudi Aramco … Aramco’s interest in international gas is probably elsewhere, closer to home perhaps in Africa or the Mediterranean,” Falih said on Wednesday.
Falih, who is also Aramco’s chairman, said last year that Aramco was interested in investing in international upstream ventures, particularly gas, and could invest in importing gas into the kingdom.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Wednesday that he has held discussions with Saudi Arabian officials on possible imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.
Perry was speaking at the same industry conference in Abu Dhabi in the course of his first official visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar this week.
The U.S. energy chief has met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Falih and visited Saudi Aramco during his trip.
Aramco is preparing for a share listing next year, aimed at getting a valuation of up to $2 trillion for the company in what could be the world’s biggest initial public offering (IPO).
Falih reiterated on Wednesday that the IPO was being planned for the second half of 2018.