The government wants highway fuel and service station owners to contract specialized oil companies to run their businesses within two years, according to a Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs official.
This is part of the ministry's plan to improve services on highways used by Umrah and Haj pilgrims. The project aims to improve conditions at these stations within the next six months. Abdulaziz Al-Abdul Karim, undersecretary of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, said at a press conference following the meeting that a special committee headed by Dr. Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, minister of municipal and rural affairs, will supervise the project.
The government believes that contracted oil companies will create competition in the sector, while maintaining the individual ownership of the stations, he said.
The first meeting to discuss mechanism to implement the Cabinet decision was held yesterday at the ministry's office in Riyadh.
Karim added that the project will be implemented with the cooperation of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and other relevant bodies. “It will develop incentive programs for investors, and an integrated franchised program for fuel stations and service centers,” the undersecretary said.
Owners of existing stations and service centers will be granted a grace period of two years to outsource their operations to specialized oil companies, he said.
Commenting on the possibility of foreign investment in the sector, Karim said: “The process will be subjected to the special regulations in this regard, but the opportunity is open for international food chain restaurants to expand and invest in such premises.”
“The Cabinet has tasked the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs with developing the organizing regulations of this project,” he was quoted as saying at the press conference. “This involves developing a list of all gas stations on highways and the necessary equipment needed for oil companies to compete in the field, in coordination with the SCTA.”
He said the ministry has looked into the best international practices while planning for the development of the Kingdom’s fuel stations and service centers.
“The project targets fuel stations on highways used by pilgrims and Umrah visitors,” Abdulaziz Al-Abdul Karim added.