DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Jadwa Investment has become the first domestic company to participate in a joint venture with state oil giant Saudi Aramco, an industry source said on Thursday.
Exxon Mobil sold Jadwa its 30 percent stake in the Saudi Aramco Lubricating Oil Refining Company (Luberef) earlier this week, the companies said in a statement.
They did not detail the investment, but one industry source said the deal was worth around $500 million dollars.
“This is interesting not so much for the sale itself, but as the first domestic joint venture for Aramco,” said the industry source in Saudi Arabia. “It may open the door for other similar ventures, and for a greater participation of private sector investors in the energy industry.”
Domestic investors will have another opportunity to buy into Aramco’s refining business in January when Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical plan to sell a 25 percent stake in their $9.8 billion joint refining and petrochemical venture PetroRabigh.
The offer could be the second-largest Saudi initial public offering and is the first IPO to involve Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter.
Aramco has plans to sell stakes in joint ventures for two new 400,000 barrels-per-day oil export refineries, and wants 100 percent private investment for another new refinery at Jizan.
Aramco wants Luberef to expand, and this did not fit in with Exxon’s plans in the lubricant market, industry sources said. Exxon is the dominant player in the market, supplying 19 percent of feedstock globally for lubricant production.
Exxon remains committed to its other investments in the kingdom and internationally with Aramco and Saudi petrochemical giant Sabic, sources said.
“We look forward to working closely together (with Aramco) both here in the kingdom and elsewhere,” said Desmond Carr, Exxon chairman in Saudi Arabia, in an Aramco statement on the stake sale.
Exxon has joint ventures with Aramco at the 400,000 bpd Samref refinery. Exxon, Aramco and China’s Sinopec are also working together to expand the Fujian refinery in China to 240,000 bpd from 80,000 bpd and build a petrochemical plant at the site.
Exxon also has two joint ventures with Sabic at Yanbu and Jubail.
Jadwa is a Saudi investment company established last year.
Luberef was established in 1976 and produces around 550,000 tonnes per year of oil lubricants at two refineries on the kingdom’s Red Sea coast at Jeddah and Yanbu.