Russia and Saudi Arabia are holding talks about investments worth tens of billions of U.S. dollars in various energy projects, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said at an economic forum in Russia on Friday.
Russia and Saudi Arabia have many bilateral projects, and their respective energy ministers discussed some of them at their meeting on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Thursday.
The two countries are planning projects in petrochemicals, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and joint research centers in Russia, Sputnik quoted Novak as saying on Friday.
The talks are being held at a critical time when Saudi Arabia—or, rather, OPEC—needs Russia to be amenable to extending the production quotas past the June expiry.
At the meeting with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Thursday, Novak said that Saudi Arabia is one of Russia’s key partners in the Middle East.
The Russia-Saudi partnership is evolving, including with the cooperation between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, which have invested around US$2 billion in joint projects, Novak said at the meeting with al-Falih, as carried by the Russian energy ministry.
Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Transneft, and other Russian companies are interested in cooperation with Saudi firms, Novak said.
Saudi Aramco, on the other hand, has long been rumored to be considering buying a stake in the Arctic LNG 2 project led by Russian gas company Novatek.
In March this year, Novatek’s CEO Leonid Mikhelson told Russian media that the Russian firm was ready to consider selling up to 30 percent in the Arctic LNG 2 project to Aramco.
In April, Novatek signed agreements with two Chinese companies, under which the Asian firms will become shareholders in the Arctic LNG project with 10 percent each. Earlier this year, France’s Total, a partner of Novatek in the producing Yamal LNG project, signed a deal to buy a direct 10-percent interest in Arctic LNG 2.
The final investment decision on the Arctic LNG 2 project is expected to be made in the second half of 2019, while the first liquefaction train is planned to start up in 2023.