Saudi Aramco enters the global LNG industry

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's oil group Aramco said on Thursday it had agreed to acquire a strategic minority stake in liquefied natural gas company MidOcean Energy for $500 MM, with an option to increase the size of the shareholding.

MidOcean is owned and managed by U.S. investment firm EIG Partners, which led a consortium to buy a 49% stake in Aramco's oil pipelines business in 2021, a deal that raised $12.4 billion for Aramco.

"This is an important step in Aramco's strategy to become a leading global LNG player," Aramco Upstream President Nasir K. al-Naimi said in a statement, which did not disclose the size of the stake.

"MidOcean Energy is well-equipped to capitalize on rising LNG demand, and this strategic partnership reflects our willingness to work with leading international players," he added.

MidOcean is in the process of buying interests in four LNG projects in Australia as part of its growth strategy to create a global LNG business, the statement said.

In October 2022, MidOcean said it agreed with Tokyo Gas Co to buy the Japanese company's stakes in a portfolio of four Australian LNG projects for $2.15 billion.

Sources told Reuters in July EIG was tapping international investors, particularly in the Middle East, to buy into MidOcean, which is part of a consortium taking over Australia's Origin Energy for $10.2 billion.

Aramco President and Chief Executive Amin Nasser said the deal strengthened Aramco's relationship with EIG and "gas will be important in meeting the world's rising need for secure, accessible and more sustainable energy".

In March, Nasser had said that Aramco actively looking at LNG opportunities globally.

Aramco's acquisition of the MidOcean stake is subject to regulatory approvals among other conditions.

"While our initial focus is on the announced transactions in Australia, we believe the opportunity set is global," EIG Chairman and Chief Executive Blair Thomas said in the statement.

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