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    Aramco strikes $15.5bn gas pipe deal


The national oil company closed a similar deal for its oil pipelines earlier this year.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Aramco strikes $15.5bn gas pipe deal

Saudi Aramco announced on December 6 it had reached a $15.5bn lease-and-leaseback deal for its gas pipeline network with a consortium led by BlackRock Real Assets and state-owned Hassana Investment Co.

Aramco framed the deal as part of its asset optimisation programme. Like other Gulf producers, the company is seeking to monetise its infrastructure assets through leases following a rebound in global oil and gas prices. It closed a similar, $12.4bn deal for its oil pipeline network in June with BlackRock, Brookfield Asset Management, EIG and others.

Aramco's newly-formed subsidiary Aramco Gas Pipelines will lease usage rights to the company's gas pipeline network for 20 years, and in return, it will receive a tariff from Aramco for handling the national oil company (NOC)'s gas, backed by minimum throughput commitments. 

The investors led by BlackRock and Hassana will receive a 49% stake in Aramco Gas Pipelines, while the Saudi NOC will retain the remaining 51%. However, Aramco will retain full ownership and operational control of the network.

"With gas expected to play a key role in the global transition to a more sustainable energy future, our partners will benefit from a deal tied to a world-class gas infrastructure asset," Aramco CEO Amin Nasser commented. 

The deal is expected to be closed "as soon as practicable," pending standard conditions including merger control and related approvals, Aramco said.