Western firms press Saudis to unseat oil minister, clear way for mega gas deal
Western energy multinationals have stepped up their campaign to unseat Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, ahead of the four-year cabinet reshuffle scheduled for May, reported the Financial Times. Al-Naimi is perceived as the man standing between the giant foreign oil firms and a lucrative piece of the kingdom’s vast gas fields.
A new minister in office is hoped by the oil giants to prove more flexible in negotiating the terms of foreign investment in the kingdom’s $25 billion gas initiative. Annnounced in mid-2001, the initiative marked the energy sector’s first opening since was nationalized back in 1975.
Eight foreign firms are seeking to enter into partnership with the state-owned oil company Aramco for the exploration and production of the nation’s vast natural gas reserves. However, negotiations between the firms and the Saudis have come to a standstill over the definition of upstream activities and profit margins for the companies.
The first core-venture (CV) project has already been awarded to a ExxonMobil-BP Amoco-Phillips Petroleum consortium. The second was to be executed by ExxonMobil0-Occidental-Marathon Oil, but is now suspended. Another CV was awarded to a Shell-TotalFinaElf-Conoco venture. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)