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The Next Major Middle East Oil IPO

Tsvetana Paraskova

Oman Oil Company, wholly owned by the Gulf crude producer not part of OPEC, plans an initial public offering (IPO) of up to 25 percent by the end of 2020, as Oman looks to shore up its budget deficit after the 2014 oil price crash.

Oman has already retained financial advisers for what would be the second IPO of a Gulf producer after the much-anticipated share sale of Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco, Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed al Rumhy said on Wednesday, as carried by Reuters.

As Oman’s economy is overly reliant on the oil sector, the price crash in 2014-2015 and only the modest recovery in prices in recent years have widened the country’s deficit. An IPO of its state-held oil firm would give Oman much needed fiscal resources to plug deficits and, potentially, to implement reforms to diversify its economy away from oil.

According to S&P Global Ratings, oil and gas accounts for 35 percent of Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP), 60 percent of its exports, and a whopping 70 percent of its fiscal receipts.

“Given this high reliance on the hydrocarbon sector, we view Oman’s economy as undiversified and subject to global oil industry dynamics,” S&P Global Ratings said in October.  

Oman, which is part of the non-OPEC partners in the OPEC+ production cut deal, will tell fellow producers later this week that it recommends the rollover of the cuts until the end of next year, al Rumhy also said on Wednesday. 

On Thursday, OPEC members meet in Vienna to discuss the state of the oil market and the fate of the production cut pact. Non-OPEC partners in the deal, led by Russia, will join the talks on Friday, December 6.

“Whatever is needed I am sure they [participants at the oil talks] will make the right decision,” the Omani oil minister told Reuters, asked if potential deeper cuts could stabilize the oil market.

As the meeting draws nearer, a growing number of analysts expect only deeper cuts to help drain a looming glut early next year—in all other scenarios oil prices could drop to as low as the low $40s.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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