Saudi Aramco has entered into a $15.5bn lease and leaseback deal for its gas pipeline network, further advancing its asset optimisation programme.

The company signed the deal with a consortium led by BlackRock Real Assets and Hassana Investment Company, the investment management arm of the state-backed General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).

As agreed, the newly formed subsidiary Aramco Gas Pipelines Company will lease the usage rights in the company’s gas pipelines network and lease them back to Aramco for a 20-year period.

Aramco will pay a tariff to the Aramco Gas Pipelines Company for the gas products that will be transported through the network, backed by minimum commitments on throughput.

Aramco will continue to hold full ownership of its gas pipeline network.

It will also hold a 51% stake in Aramco Gas Pipelines Company. The remaining 49% will be owned by the investors led by BlackRock and Hassana.

The completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including any required merger control and related approvals.

Once complete, Aramco will receive upfront proceeds of $15.5bn, further increasing its balance sheet.

This is the company’s second such infrastructure transaction this year. In June, Aramco closed a $12.4bn lease and leaseback transaction that involved its stabilised crude oil pipeline network.

Commenting on the latest deal, Aramco Corporate Development senior vice-president Abdulaziz M. Al Gudaimi said: “Our gas pipeline assets are critical and growing, and highly integrated with the rest of Aramco’s oil and gas facilities.

“We are pleased that we are concluding the second transaction, seeking long term partners who understand and appreciate the industry.

“This transaction represents the largest energy infrastructure deal in the region to date and exemplifies Aramco’s unique positioning as a partner for prominent global institutional investors.”