Saudi Arabian Oil Company (“Aramco”) and an international investor consortium, led by affiliates of BlackRock and Hassana, announced on 23 February, 2022 the successful closing of the lease and leaseback deal previously announced on December 6, 2021. The consortium has acquired 49% stake in Aramco Gas Pipelines Company, a subsidiary of Aramco, for $15.5 billion. The consortium comprises leading institutional investors including, amongst others, Keppel Infrastructure Trust, Silk Road Fund, and China Merchants Capital.
This long-term investment by the consortium represents further progress in Aramco’s portfolio optimization program and highlights the strong investment opportunities presented by Aramco’s significant infrastructure assets. It also underlines Aramco’s strong long-term outlook and the appeal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to leading institutional investors.
As part of the transaction, first announced in December 2021, Aramco Gas Pipelines Company and Aramco entered into a 20-year lease and leaseback arrangement in connection with Aramco’s gas pipeline network. Under this arrangement, Aramco Gas Pipelines Company will receive a tariff payable by Aramco for the specified gas products that flow through the network, backed by minimum commitments on throughput. Aramco retains a 51% majority stake in Aramco Gas Pipeline Company, and also retains full ownership and operational control of the gas pipeline network. The transaction does not impose any restrictions on Aramco’s production volumes.
The announcement follows the closing of a $12.4 billion infrastructure transaction in connection with Aramco’s stabilized crude oil pipeline network in June 2021.
Concurrent with closing of this transaction, Aramco has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BlackRock, to explore joint opportunities in future energy transition projects related to low carbon energy infrastructure. The MoU reinforces the relationship with BlackRock, enhancing opportunities for possible future collaborations.
Aramco President & CEO, Amin H. Nasser, said: “This agreement is our second landmark infrastructure transaction in less than a year and another major step forward in our long-term value creation strategy. The participation of the consortium led by BlackRock and Hassana underlines the appeal of Aramco’s portfolio to leading global investors as Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation builds momentum, requiring a robust energy infrastructure and network that are vital to meet the needs of an expanding industrial sector.
At the same time as Aramco raises gas production and seeks new opportunities in low-carbon energy sources over the next decade, the importance of our energy infrastructure in relation to global energy security and reliability is expected to grow in significance.”
Abdulaziz M. Al Gudaimi, Aramco Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, said: “We remain focused on maximizing the potential of our assets and assessing new investment opportunities to further enhance our robust balance sheet. The gas infrastructure transaction with BlackRock and Hassana is a testament of the relationship with the global investors and emphasizes gas as a key pillar to grow in domestic and international markets.”
Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, said: “We are pleased to close this landmark transaction and deepen our partnership with Aramco by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to develop low carbon energy infrastructure together. Getting to a net zero world will not happen overnight. It requires us to shift the energy mix in incremental steps to achieve a green energy future. Bold, forward-thinking incumbents like Aramco have the technical expertise and capital to play a crucial role in this transformation, and we look forward to our future collaboration.”
Saad A. AlFadly, CEO of Hassana Investment Company, added: “We are delighted to achieve closing of this landmark transaction which highlights our focus to invest in critical infrastructures in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We look forward to working with our partners at Aramco and BlackRock to make this a successful long-term investment.”