RIYADH :  Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia announced a slight rise in its crude oil reserves on Wednesday after they were independently audited, providing more detail about the size of deposits shrouded in secrecy for decades.

Saudi Arabia's reserves of easily recoverable oil have long been the world's largest but few details were public.

The external audit was started as part of preparations for the  initial public offering of state oil company Saudi Aramco.

The Saudi Energy Ministry said in a statement carried out by state news agency  SPA  that Saudi Arabia's proven oil and gas reserves stood at around  268.5 billion barrels of  oil and  325.1 trillion standard cubic feet of gas as of the end of 2017.

''The results pointed out that the Kingdom's reserves of  oil and gas are bigger than what what we have been announcing,'' Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told a news conference in Riyadh.

The audit will dispel scepticism in the oil industry about the size of  Saudi reserves and provide assurance for potential investors in Aramco investors, should the  initial public offering  which have been delayed eventually go ahead.

Falih's  news conference took place hours later than initially scheduled and SPA corrected its initial announcement of the reserves figures. [Reuters]


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