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
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
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