Saudi Arabia is considering selling shares in refining ventures with foreign oil firms but would not offer a stake in the crude oil exploration and production operations of state oil giant Saudi Aramco, sources familiar with official thinking said.
Some Aramco managers have been informed that the company is looking at listing shares in "joint downstream subsidiaries" at home and abroad, the sources said.
One option is to create a holding company that would group together Aramco's stakes in the downstream subsidiaries, one source said.
Shares in the parent firm would not be offered, he added.
"The holding company is the one which could be listed, not Aramco itself," he said, declining to be named because of political sensitivities.
The global energy market has been awash with speculation since Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared to indicate in an interview with The Economist magazine last week that Saudi Arabia might sell shares in Aramco, as part of a privatization drive to raise money in an era of cheap oil.