Saudi Aramco to set up gas stations
Saudi Aramco has disclosed plans to enter the Kingdom’s retail market by setting up gas stations fully owned by the company.
“We had already begun implementing this project by the end of last year,” said the company’s annual report without giving an exact date for launching the service.
The move comes as part of the Saudi oil giant’s strategy to become an integrated energy company that enters into more business ventures, including petrochemicals and the sales of refined products.
A team set up for this purpose is reportedly weighing several strategic options to expand the company’s operations. Aramco has already received approval for establishing a fully owned company for retail services.
The new company is licensed to build, operate and maintain service stations in selected areas. The company will not only run gas stations but also supermarkets and other services. Aramco has indicated that it could hand services other than fuel supply to potential partners who could add value to the company and its trademark.
Two international companies — Shell and Mobil — left the Kingdom’s retail market after suffering losses, said Ahmed Al-Falih, deputy chairman of the National Committee for Gas Stations.
He said one of the two had paid SR80 million for nine stations. “Gas stations face problems in acquiring licensing and manpower,” he said.
Foreign investors in the sector are required to have 10 years’ experience in management, operation and maintenance. “About 90 percent of station owners are small investors,” Al-Falih said.