Saudi Arabia is hunting for an energy deal in American shale country, as economic upheaval pushes it to seek its first international oil-and-gas production investments.
Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco, has had initial conversations about taking a stake in Tellurian Inc., a liquefied-natural-gas developer based in Houston, or agreeing to buy some of its fuel in the future, people familiar with the matter said. Separately, it has inquired about acquiring assets in two giant U.S. oil-and-gas basins, the Permian and Eagle Ford, the people said.
The talks haven’t reached an advanced stage, and the Saudis have talked to other, undisclosed U.S. companies about natural-gas export deals, the people said.
A representative for Tellurian said: “We cannot comment on commercial dealings.” Aramco declined to comment.
Any effort to acquire American oil-and-gas production assets would mark a watershed moment for Saudi Arabia. It has been the world’s top exporter of crude oil for decades, but booming U.S. production has shaken the kingdom, depressing prices and compelling the government to rethink its dependence on revenue from its massive petroleum reserves.
Using hydraulic fracturing techniques to unlock oil and gas from shale formations, the U.S. has become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas combined and is starting to export its energy abundance. Saudi oil shipments—once the dominant source of crude for America—in September hit their lowest levels to the U.S. in 30 years.
“From a historical standpoint, it’s striking,” said Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. It is “a reminder of how dramatic the impact of the shale revolution has been,” he said.