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>> As Saudi Arabia gets ready to sell out parts of it's national oil company, Reuters was given a very rare look inside the crown jewel of the country's economy. As one insider put it, Aramco is essentially a state within a state. It has it's own schools, it's own hospitals and even it's own airport and aircraft.
Something we discovered when we traveled almost 1,000 kilometers to the south of the kingdom to visit a major oil field.>> We would like to welcome you to>> Aramco is the world's largest oil exporter. It's also currently the focus of a burning question. When will its initial public offering take place?
Saudi officials want to sell up to 5% of the company and hope to raise $100 billion. That would make the IPO the largest in history, all though there are doubts about whether the offering can raise that much. One key factor in Aramco's valuation will be the price of oil.
In theory, higher prices should help Riyadh earn more money when it lists publicly.>> According to sources, Aramco has around 270 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. A lot of that is hidden away deep under the Arabian sands like here in Sheba. This is a major oil field in a very remote part of the empty quarter desert, where a million barrels of crude is produced each day.
The timing of Aramco's listing is also unclear. Energy minister Khalid Al-Falih has said in recent weeks that the IPO will most likely be delayed until 2019. Sources say a domestic listing in Riyadh is becoming the priority for the kingdoms government. An international listing in one or more locations is still being reviewed.
With London, New York and Hong Kong in the running. Wherever it decides to list, one thing is for sure, with over 70% of global energy demands still met by fossil fuels. A slice of Saudi Arabia's most prized asset is likely to have plenty of interested buyers.