Saudi-US oil deals worth $45bn in line with Aramco's spending plans

22 May 2017

Decade-long agreements and MoUs signed at Trump summit do not signal sharp upturn in Saudi oil investment

Looking at the figures for the value of energy deals signed between Saudi Arabia and the US during the visit of President Donald Trump, it certainly looks like a bold statement.

International oil and gas companies operating in Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting countries in the region have seen an overall downturn in work since the crude price dropped in the second half of 2014.

The $45bn-plus worth of investment announced during Trump’s visit might look on the services like a new era of investment in the sector, but on closer inspection is it in line with many of the goals already set out by state oil and gas producer Saudi Aramco.

In September 2016 Aramco announced it would invest $334bn over the next decade to sustain oil and gas production. Of this investment, 42 per cent of the total would be spent on drilling, with 31 per cent on surface facilities and 11 per cent on infrastructure.

The details of these investments are now becoming more apparent. Three of the oil and gas deals signed on 20 May in Riyadh are deals for drilling rigs and services over the next 10 years. These include a total of $22bn of agreements with Rowan Companies, Nabors and National Oilwell Varco, two of which are part of existing joint ventures.

Saudi-US oil-, gas- and petrochemicals-related deals
US companySaudi companyProposed valueDetails
GEGovernment / Saudi Aramco$15bnIncludes $7bn worth of goods from GE in sectors including power, oil and gas, mining and health care.
Other deals include providing digital technology to Saudi Aramco to create $4bn of annual productivity improvements. Some agreements are MoUs.
Rowan CompaniesSaudi Aramco$7bnAgreement to begin the design and selection process for offshore drilling rigs as part of a previously-announced 50:50 joint venture and investment programme worth $7bn over 10 years. Rowan will own and operate rigs.
NaborsSaudi Aramco$9bnExtension of a joint venture between the two companies on well services and studies into rig movements; will see $9bn investment over 10-year period and create 4,000-5,000 Saudi jobs.
National Oilwell VarcoSaudi Aramco$6bnNew joint venture to manufacture drilling rigs and equipment in Saudi Arabia; involves $6bn investment over 10 years.
WeatherfordSaudi Aramco$2bnMoU for $2bn worth of projects to establish local oil field services and goods providers.
McDermottSaudi Aramco$2.8bnPursue projects to increase contribution of goods and services to energy sector from within Saudi Arabia.
HoneywellSaudi Aramco$3.6bnPursue projects to increase contribution of goods and services to energy sector from within Saudi Arabia. Explore potential for new engineering capabilities and systems to be developed at several of Saudi Arabia’s industrial centres.
Dow ChemicalGovernmentUndisclosedAgreement to build a plant to produce polymers for coatings and an MoU for a feasibility study for investment in performance silicones.
ExxonMobilSabicUndisclosedAgreement to conduct study of proposed petrochemicals complex in Patricio County, Texas. Project would include ethane cracker with 1.8 million t/y ethylene capacity, a monoethylene glycol plans and two polyethylene units. Part of ExxonMobil’s $20bn Growing the Gulf investment plan in Texas and Louisiana.

Three other agreements worth are non-binding memorandums of understanding worth a potential $8.4bn, signed with Weatherford, McDermott and Honeywell.

Saudi Aramco is aiming to double the percentage of locally-produced energy-related goods and services it procures from 35 per cent to 70 per cent by 2021 as part of its In Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) programme.

These three MoU deals are very much part of these ambitions and the follow-through on deals such as those made with Weatherford, McDermott and Honeywell will determine the success of Aramco’s IKTVA ambitions.

McDermott, for example, recently signed another MoU to build a new fabrication and marine complex at Ras al-Khair, which would also boost the amount of goods and services offered to the oil and gas sector from within Saudi Arabia.

The announcement of the value of each deal is somewhat unusual – especially for contracts involving oil field services and drilling rigs in the kingdom – and adds weight to the perception of the Riyadh Summit as a great success with significant investment flowing in both directions.

However, the deals announced do not necessarily herald a new era of booming investment at Aramco. Turning the MoUs that support Aramco’s IKTVA programme into long-term sustainable operations will be the real test if the kingdom is to meet its targets to localise the oil sector and boost domestic manufacturing.

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