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Saudi Arabia's energy minister told CNBC on Thursday that progress is being made in preparations to launch state oil group Saudi Aramco on the international stock market.
Speaking at an energy industry panel moderated by CNBC in Moscow, Khalid Al-Falih, who is also chairman of Saudi Aramco, said that the IPO (initial public offering) was set to happen in the second half of 2018.
"The government is moving right ahead, as the chairman of Saudi Aramco I can tell you that our board remains focused on reviewing the preparations for that event by a very dedicated team within the company. It will take place in 2018 and there is nothing to indicate that that schedule is slipping," he said.
Al-Falih said more details would be released in due course but would not be drawn on a more precise date. He said the IPO was significant for Saudi Arabia's economic transformation.
"(The IPO) will be used as a catalyst to signify an opening up like no other of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in terms of privatization, globalization and moving on and building on the solid foundation that oil has provided our economy to the next economy" he said.
Speaking on the same panel, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, said he did not know whether Russian investors would participate in the planned Saudi Aramco IPO.