Listing shares in Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, Saudi Aramco, is less likely than the listing of the company’s downstream subsidiaries, according to US-based ratings agency Standard and Poors.

In a statement released on 18 February the agency said, “given the strategic importance of Saudi Aramco and the perceived reluctance of the company to reveal geological, operational, or financial specifics in the past,we see an IPO of the company as less likely than the listing of its downstream subsidiaries.”

“If these plans come to fruition, the related receipts could provide significant support to the government budget,” it added.

In January, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud said that Saudi Arabia was thinking about listing shares in Saudi Aramco.

The potential listing comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is wrestling with increased financial pressures driven by the collapse in global oil prices and extra military spending as it wages war in Yemen.

Saudi Aramco is thought to be the world’s biggest company, worth trillions of dollars, but it is one of the world’s most secretive oil companies and reveals no information about its revenue.