Press Release

Saudi Arabia: Vision 2030 Losing Focus

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The Saudi Aramco IPO has stalled, and the NOC could be forced to pile up debt in order to bankroll state projects. Analysis from Energy Intelligence’s Research & Advisory group suggests the IPO failure has dealt another blow to Vision 2030, the Crown Prince’s economic transformation program. Labor reforms are backfiring, investment has plummeted and capital flight is a growing challenge.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih denied reports last week that the Saudi Aramco IPO was cancelled, but the listing is dead for now. The NOC is instead focusing on a politically-motivated acquisition of the state’s share of Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic), one of the world’s largest petrochemical firms. The forced marriage is meant to capitalize the Public Investment Fund (PIF)—the engine for state investments at home and abroad—and would require Saudi Aramco to take on substantial debt.

The Saudi Aramco IPO was the most visible plank of Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s long-term plan to diversify the economy. Abandoning the IPO is another sign of the regulatory and policy uncertainty that has discouraged investment. Labor reforms have led to an exodus of 700,000 foreign workers since 4Q 2016. Foreign direct investment has fallen sharply, from an average of $7.9 billion per year between 2014 and 2016 to only $1.4 billion last year. And capital flight is a growing concern.

“Not all is lost for Vision 2030, but the state is focusing on high profile mega-projects rather than the more prosaic economic and legal reforms that would encourage private investment,” says Ben Cahill, Manager with Energy Intelligence’s Research & Advisory division in Washington, D.C. “Vision 2030 ultimately aims to reduce dependence on oil revenues, but steps taken so far are doing the opposite.”

Energy Intelligence is the leading independent provider of news, unbiased analysis and reliable data and research for the global energy industry. Research & Advisory is the company’s independent research and analysis arm. Our team consists of experienced professionals drawn from multiple fields in the oil and gas industry. The group covers four core areas: Strategic Trends, Country Risk, Business & Competitive Intelligence and the North America Value-Chain. Research & Advisory also provides a suite of interactive data tools: LNG Trade Dynamics, World Crude Oil Data, and the Energy Intelligence Top 100: Global NOC and IOC Rankings.

For over a decade, Energy Intelligence has delivered bespoke advisory projects, on topics including country risk and entry strategies, competitor intelligence and positioning, and market studies.


Note to Editors: For more details on Energy Intelligence’s Saudi Arabia analysis, please contact:

Ben Cahill
Manager, Research & Advisory, Energy Intelligence +1 (202) 662-0707 |

Click here for our outlook for Vision 2030 and the call on Saudi Aramco:

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