Saudi Arabia’s Oil and Gas Market: A Guide for European Investors

Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas sector is a cornerstone of its economy, offering substantial opportunities for foreign investment. With vast proven reserves, a well-established services sector, and a stable business environment, the country is an attractive destination for European oil and gas companies. Forming strategic partnerships and introducing innovative technologies can lead to successful ventures in this dynamic market. Engaging with local experts, such as Saudi Oil & Gas Consulting, can provide essential insights and support, ensuring that businesses navigate this promising sector effectively.

Industry Overview

Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas sector is a pivotal element of its economic landscape, significantly impacting the country’s GDP and export revenues. The oil and gas sector contributes 50% to Saudi Arabia’s GDP and accounts for 70% of the country’s exports in 2022. Saudi Arabia is the leading exporter of oil, providing 10% of the global oil supply. It is home to Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, valued at approximately $1.9 trillion USD. The country is the second largest oil producer globally, with a production rate of 9 million barrels per day, and it holds 15% of the world’s total oil reserves. Additionally, Saudi Arabia is ranked as the sixth top emerging market in the 2023 Kearney’s Investment Attractiveness Index.

Economic Context

With the largest economy in the MENA region and ranking 17th globally, Saudi Arabia has a GDP of $1.11 trillion USD. The country’s demographic advantage is notable, with 63% of its population under 30. The petrochemical industry plays a crucial role in the non-oil economy, accounting for 60% of total non-oil exports. Saudi Arabia holds a 6% share of the global petrochemicals market, and ongoing diversification efforts are poised to enhance production value in the future.

Opportunities for European Oil and Gas Firms

Saudi Arabia offers extensive opportunities for European oil and gas companies, especially within the framework of the Vision 2030 initiative, which aims to diversify the economy. Key opportunities include:

  • Exploration and Production: There are significant untapped reserves, including onshore unconventional resources and offshore areas in the Red Sea.
  • Refining and Petrochemicals: Expansion in these areas continues, creating investment opportunities.
  • Streamlined Visa Processes: The introduction of the e-visa system simplifies access for international business travelers.
  • Investment-Friendly Environment: The country encourages foreign investments and international joint ventures (JVs).

Challenges in the Saudi Market

Despite the attractive opportunities, European oil and gas companies may encounter several challenges:

Initial Setup Costs: Establishing operations in Saudi Arabia can be both time-consuming and costly.

Complex Bureaucracy: Navigating the local business environment and regulatory landscape can be challenging.

Business Environment

The In-Kingdom Total Value Add Program (IKTVA), part of Vision 2030, promotes partnerships between international and local companies. Aramco favors local procurement from foreign companies through joint ventures with Saudi-owned businesses, enhancing the appeal for European firms offering unique technologies and expertise.

Sector Developments

  • Recent initiatives underscore Saudi Arabia’s commitment to its oil and gas sector:
  • Increased Gas Production: Aiming to boost gas production for domestic industrial use and power generation, thereby freeing up more crude oil for export.
  • Upstream Investments: Aramco plans to enhance upstream oil and gas investments to meet global demand, as alternative energy sources are not yet fully viable.
  • Production Capacity Goals: The Saudi Ministry of Energy and Aramco plan to increase oil production capacity to 13 million barrels per day by 2027 and expand gas production by 50% by the end of the decade.


Saudi Arabia offers a compelling market for foreign investment in the oil and gas sector, with substantial proven reserves, a well-established services sector, and a stable business environment. European companies can thrive by forming strategic partnerships and introducing innovative technologies. Engaging with the right local partners and leveraging the IKTVA program’s benefits can lead to successful ventures in this dynamic market. For those seeking expert guidance, Saudi Oil & Gas Consulting can provide essential insights and support in navigating this promising sector.

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