Saudi authorities have called off a briefing due on Tuesday for foreign oil companies aiming to invest in the country's energy sector, industry sources said.
The sources told AFP that the move would delay a second round of talks between 12 international oil companies and a Saudi ministerial negotiating committee that was due to take place six weeks after the briefing.
"They had planned a presentation on May 9. They told us last week it was cancelled," without giving a new date, said a western executive whose firm is involved in the negotiations.
"They realised that we, the companies, need more data to make better proposals, so they planned a presentation on May 9 to share the data with us," he said, stressing that the process was delayed but not suspended or frozen.
Oil expert Naji Abi Aad said a second round of negotiations was now unlikely before the end of summer.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, chairing the Saudi committee, said last weeks that the dozen oil majors, in talks from April 16-30, had put forward a series of proposals injecting more than 100 billion dollars into the energy sector.
Eight US companies -- MobilExxon, Chevron, Texaco, Conoco, Phillips, Enron, Occidental (Oxy) and Marathon -- and Europe's BP Amoco, Royal Dutch Shell, TotalFinaElf took part in the preliminary talks held in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Saudi Arabia, which sits on top of the world's biggest oil reserves, has estimated gas reserves of six trillion cubic metres (204 trillion cubic feet).
On the other hand, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) said Monday cooperation with Iranian firms could help the industry in both countries compete globally.
The comments by SABIC vice chairman Mohammed Mady at a conference in Tehran, echoed calls by senior Iranian officials for more regional cooperation and reflects growing links between oil giants Iran and Saudi Arabia, said Reuters Tuesday.
"We believe SABIC and Iranian producers can work together to mutual benefit, and we look forward to exploring various manufacturing and marketing options," Mady told the conference.
Iran, which is aiming to double annual petrochemical capacity to 30 million tones by 2005, could benefit from SABIC's sales network in Asia and Europe, Mady added.
SABIC, in turn, could export feedstock to help start up some Iranian downstream plants until Iran was able to produce its own feedstock, he said.
Iran News Agency (IRNA) quoted Mady as saying that the global petrochemicals export market was shrinking as many states developed domestic production - (Agencies)
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