Maintaining separation between Aramco and its regulator is a ‘must,’ Saudi energy minister says

ABU DHABI — New Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has underlined the importance of regulation for Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, as it gears up for a long-anticipated initial public offering (IPO).

“I have no doubt in my mind that emphasizing the separation between Aramco, the corporate, and the ministry as regulator is a must,” he told CNBC contributor Helima Croft at an audience of delegates at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi Monday.

“The regulator cannot be a person, the regulator has to be an institution. That regulator role has to be defined, and the contours of the role of the regulator has to be understood,” he added.

The oil giant delayed its IPO, originally scheduled for 2018, reportedly over Saudi concerns about public scrutiny over its finances and because of the complexity of its corporate structure.

Aramco now expects to list shares within the next two years. The IPO aims to raise cash for a government looking to significantly reduce its budget deficit and diversify its economy beyond oil as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.