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Saudi Arabian negotiators held talks with oil giants ExxonMobile and BP Amoco Plc
Riyadh, Feb 18th, 2001

Saudi Arabian negotiators held talks with oil giants ExxonMobile and BP Amoco Plc yesterday on investment plans in the kingdom's multi-billion dollar gas sector. Influential Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, who heads the team negotiating investment projects with oil firms, told the official Saudi Press Agency that the team met ExxonMobile's Lee Raymond in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

"The meeting was positive and fruitful and comes at an important stage in negotiations and aims to evaluate progress made and discuss the next steps," Prince Saud said. "The kingdom aims to start signing memoranda of understanding with the firms selected during April."

The negotiating team also met BP chief executive John Brown, the news agency later said, without giving further details. Top executives from Royal Dutch/Shell, TotalFinaElf and Chevron Corp are also in Riyadh and are due to hold similar talks on Saturday and Sunday.

The companies are keen to get more details about three huge gas projects that could provide a foothold in the Saudi upstream sector for the first time since nationalization in the 1970s. Sources said the four companies were all grouped in the same Core Venture 1 group vying to develop the South Ghawar area.

"The kingdom seeks to attract major and urgent investments to boost economic infrastructure, raise growth levels, provide new employment and training opportunities for citizens and attractive opportunities to employ Saudi capital," said Prince Saud, the driving force behind the move to get foreign firms back into Saudi Arabia.

The firms are being asked to help develop known gas reserves and also invest in downstream projects fed by gas supplies, such as power and desalination. The more valuable crude oil sector remains strictly off limits to the foreign companies.

Industry sources say the kingdom is looking for detailed plans on how to go forward with the three gas projects for which three consortiums have already been sketched out, but that the companies ideally would like to see more information before making detailed proposals.

Ten short-listed firms were to have submitted written responses by February 10 before giving presentations to Saudi negotiators in Riyadh. The other companies are Phillips Petroleum Co, Texaco Inc, Conoco Inc, Enron/Oxy Crop, ENI and Marathon Oil Co.

Source: Gulf News 

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19 February 2001 02:57:41 PM

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