Investing in Saudi Aramco’s IPO is a Very Bad Idea

William O. Pate II
Nov 11, 2019 · 3 min read
“Pump-jack mining crude oil with the sunset,” Zbynek Burival/Unsplash

The Saudi Arabian state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, will soon sell shares to the public for the first time. It sounds like a good investment, doesn’t it? I mean, when’s the last time one had the opportunity to invest in a massive oil company’s initial stock offering to the public?

It’s a sure-thing, as far as those go. Seems like a no-brainer. At least, that’s what I thought upon first glance at the headlines announcing its IPO. Then I unexpectedly received A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal in the mail yesterday and read through it.

Less than a quarter of the way through the book, I realized that oil companies — as vehicles for capital growth — are largely moribund.

Saudi Aramco is going public just before everyone realizes its assets — oil reserves — are worthless. If they were to pump and burn those reserves, it would doom the world ecologically. Thus, Saudi Aramco’s actual value is zero — or, rather, it’s just one huge liability.

Don’t believe me? Bill McKibben did the math way back in 2012:

Investing in Saudi Aramco’s IPO is, essentially, just giving the Saudi royal family and other early stockholders a final cash infusion before it all goes belly-up. Purchasing Saudi Aramco stock won’t make you an investor, it’ll make you a willing-if-unwitting perpetrator and, ultimately, victim:

A Planet to Win is a good, easy and quick read on a “radical” program for a Green New Deal (as opposed to the to-be-expected milquetoast alternatives offered and sure-to-be-offered by the likes of free marketers, Republicans, neoliberals and “centrist” Democrats). It isn’t an explainer or even a deep-dive into the specifics of any legislation. Instead, it covers four areas of our lives that will require tremendous change in the coming years to adapt and prevent an environmental disaster that reduces my two-year-old niece’s Earth to a few walled gardens surrounded by ashen wastelands.

Of course, since the goal of capitalism is to accumulate as much money and property as you can no matter the consequences, it’s probably too much to ask that the royal family and other oil executives save some of the money invested to pay for the environmental disaster they’ve caused.¹

¹ Instead, they’ll probably continue funding stuff like this:

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an examination of free will

a few thoughts. The personal online journal of William O. Pate II. Contact at More at

William O. Pate II

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Writer | Critic | Essayist | Public Policy | Marketing in Austin, Texas.

an examination of free will

a few thoughts. The personal online journal of William O. Pate II. Contact at More at

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