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It is premature to assume that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans to allow foreign companies to develop natural gas fields as part of a massive $25 billion downstream gas development effort, according to US companies with interests in the kingdom.
"I think it is inaccurate to assume the whole deal is lost, although some of the projects may indeed be restructured," said an industry official involved with the discussions.
There has been increasing speculation that the Saudis may decide to downsize or recast their plans in light of the stalled negotiations, which have dragged on for over a year (OGJ Online, Mar. 4, 2002).
"We are clearly at the 11th hour on this," noted Brad Bourland, chief economist of the Riyadh-based Saudi American Bank.
Sources familiar with the talks predicted that, among the three large proposed gas projects, the one with the least amount of US …