The world's largest petroleum company, Saudi Aramco, which in 2019 brought a minority share of the company on to the Saudi Tadawul Bourse in its Initial Public Offering (IPO), has taken on a consortium led by US-based EIG Global Energy Partners with a 49 percent share of the infrastructure company Aramco Oil Pipelines.
The deal comes as Aramco -- the kingdom's cash cow -- seeks to monetise its once-untouchable assets to generate revenue for the Saudi government as it accelerates efforts to diversify the oil-reliant economy.
"Upon closing, Aramco will receive upfront proceeds of around $12.4 billion, further strengthening its balance sheet through one of the largest energy infrastructure deals globally," the company said in a statement late Friday.
As part of the transaction, a newly-formed Aramco subsidiary, Aramco Oil Pipelines Company, will lease usage rights in Aramco's stabilised crude oil pipelines network for a 25-year period.
In January, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, said the country would sell more Aramco shares in the coming years.
He said future share offerings would be a key way to boost the Public Investment Fund, the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund which is the main engine of its diversification efforts.
In a major new diversification push late last month, Saudi Arabia announced plans to pump investments worth $3.2 trillion into the national economy by 2030, roping in the kingdom's biggest companies including Aramco.
Under a programme name "Shareek", or partner, Aramco and other top Saudi companies will lead the investment drive by contributing five trillion riyals ($1.3 trillion) over the next decade, Prince Mohammed said.