Kuwait to privatise oil companies

13 July 2016

KPC confirms plans to IPO subsidiaries

Kuwait is planning to sell 20 to 30 per cent stakes in up to four oil and petrochemicals subsidiaries of the Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC), Anas Al-Saleh, Finance Minister and acting Oil Minister has told US news agency Bloomberg.

The companies being considered for part privatisation include Kuwait Petroleum International (Q8), Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (Kufpec), Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) and Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC).

This is part of a four-year plan to carry out initial public offerings in the state-owned oil units. Al-Saleh declined to give further details, but said Kuwait would not go ahead with share sales “if it wasn’t worthwhile”.

KPC would retain overall control over its subsidiaries.

“This is just certain activities such as downstream activities and shipping, not privatising the whole of KPC,” a spokesperson for the company told MEED. “Every move is studied carefully.”

This follows Saudi Arabia’s decision to sell a minority share in its national oil company Saudi Aramco. However, Kuwait’s privatisations will not touch major producers and refiners such as Kuwait Oil Company and Kuwait National Petroleum Company.

These create over 70 per cent of the Kuwaiti government’s revenue, thanks to production of 2.7 million barrels a day of production in 2015, according to OPEC figures.

Q8 refines and markets fuel, and other petroleum derivatives globally. It sells around 450,000 barrels of fuel a day, and has a number of refining joint ventures in Italy, Belgium and Vietnam.

Kufpec is an oil explorer and producers with stakes in assets in 14 countries. Its average production in 2014 was 73846 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

KOTC has a fleet of 30 vessels, including 12 very large crude carriers, serving the Kuwaiti oil industry.

PIC has a number of joint ventures with the US’ Dow Chemicals and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), among others. Dow is currently seeking to reduce its stake in Equate Petrochemical Company and other subsidiaries. Equate produces 5 million metric tons a year of petrochemicals products.

Al-Saleh did not specify whether the companies would be listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, which has suffered recently from low liquidity and undervalued companies. There have been no recent IPOs on the exchange, and some companies are considering delisting.

Kuwait’s National Assembly passed a privatisation bill in 2010, which did not cover the oil sector. However, progress has stalled since then and no state-owned companies have been privatised.

The fall in oil prices is expected to renew these efforts. The government will run a 13.4 per cent fiscal deficit in 2016, according to IMF estimates, after oil revenues halved from 2014 levels.

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