Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, head of the kingdom’s new Council of Economic and Development Affairs, has shaken the oil industry by means of a 7 January Economist interview in which he says the company is contemplating an initial public offering (IPO) of shares.

The state-owned petroleum giant controls some of the world’s largest upstream assets – oil reserves of over 260bn barrels and sustainable production capacity of 12mn b/d – and the interview unsurprisingly prompted intense speculation. Aramco swiftly moved to dampen down expectation, while being careful not to counter any of Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s statements. On 8 January, it released a press statement confirming that it “has been studying various options to allow broad public participation” either through “an appropriate percentage of the Company’s shares and/or the listing of a bundle of its downstream subsidiaries.” (CONTINUED - 824 WORDS)