Saudi Aramco private investment plan voluntary, not state imposed, says CEO

FILE PHOTO: An employee in a branded helmet is pictured at Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Saudi Aramco said on Wednesday the government had no plans to impose private partnerships on the oil giant, after it launched a programme to support private investment in the kingdom as part of Saudi Arabia’s diversification push.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday state-controlled Aramco and petrochemical firm SABIC would lead investments of 5 trillion riyals ($1.3 trillion) by the local private sector by 2030 under a programme called Shareek (Partner).

The initiative aims to mobilise investment by the private sector of the world’s biggest oil exporter to help wean the economy off reliance on crude, which still accounts for more than half the state’s income.

“This is a voluntary programme. It’s on the private sector to bring these projects, to ask for incentives,” Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser told Reuters in an interview about Shareek.

He promised Aramco’s shareholders, who include a small minority of private investors since the company was listed, that the firm would set prudent capital allocation and cost criteria.

Nasser said it was too early to say how the new programme would affect Aramco’s dividend and investment plans, adding that the government was not asking Aramco to be part of specific projects.

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