Aramco sells 1st LNG shipment

DUBAI • Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco), the world’s biggest oil exporter, dipped a toe into the natural gas business by selling its first cargo of the fuel.

Aramco sold the shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Singapore, CEO Amin Nasser told reporters, without giving additional details. Aramco’s trading subsidiary sold the cargo last month to an Indian buyer, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

State-run Aramco seeks to become a “major player” in the gas industry and is looking for potential joint ventures and partnerships, Nasser said in Riyadh. “There is a lot of potential to grow our gas in the kingdom. At the same time, we are looking at international gas.”

The LNG deal is the latest example of Aramco’s effort to expand outside its historical business of pumping and selling crude.

The company plans to buy a controlling stake in the Middle East’s largest petrochemicals maker, Saudi Basic Industries Corp, and is investing in refineries in Asia and beyond.

Aramco wants to develop Saudi gas resources and plans to almost double gas production in the kingdom over the next 10 years, Nasser said.

“For the first time ever, we will be exporting gas either by pipeline, or as LNG from Saudi Arabia,” he said. “For gas, we will be a major player.”

Gas emits less carbon than oil or coal when burned and is expected to be the fastest-growing fossil fuel, with global demand forecast to rise 43% through 2040, compared to 10% for oil, according to the International Energy Agency.

Saudi Arabia also plans to boost its use of gas at home to replace crude as a fuel for power plants. — Bloomberg