By Matthew Martin and Javier Blas
While Aramco didn’t explicitly endorse the forecast, its inclusion in the IPO prospectus will bring it the attention of investors worldwide. The company’s directors believe that the data provided by the industry consultant are “reliable,” according to the prospectus.
A second scenario in the prospectus, which is essentially a marketing document for Aramco’s share sale, assumes a faster transition away from fossil fuels that leads to peak oil demand occurring in the late 2020s.
As recently as February, Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser dismissed concerns about the rise of alternatives to oil as “not based on logic and facts” and said they arose “mostly in response to pressure and hype.” A year earlier at an industry event in Houston, he said he was “not losing any sleep over ‘peak oil demand’.” Khalid Al-Falih, the country’s petroleum minister until two months ago, was equally dismissive, saying in 2017 that talk about peak demand among energy executives, analysts and activists was “misguided.”
The forecasts also stretch much further into the future than those Aramco provided in the prospectus for its April bond sale. Just over six months ago, the company was only giving investors a view of oil markets up until 2030, while now it’s providing a view way to 2050. Back in April, Aramco gave no indication that a peak in oil demand was on the horizon.
European majors like Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA have already stated concerns about oil demand peaking. Still, Aramco can take some solace in the fact that as one of the lowest-cost producers, its market share may rise as demand slips. Even in a bearish case for oil, with demand peaking in the late 2020s, Saudi Arabia’s market share could rise from around 15% to 20% by 2050, according to the prospectus.
Aramco published the prospectus on Saturday as it pushes ahead with what could be the biggest-ever share sale. One thing absent from the document was any suggestion of what valuation Aramco is aiming for. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said Aramco should be valued at $2 trillion, but bankers who have tried to value the company have suggested it may be worth anywhere from $1.1 trillion to $2.5 trillion. Investors will start bidding to buy shares in the oil company starting on Nov. 17.