CEO remarks at the Society of Petroleum Engineers - KSA Section 60th Anniversary

Remarks by Amin H. Nasser, Saudi Aramco President & CEO

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with pride and pleasure that I join you in celebrating this milestone anniversary of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Since 1959, this Section has provided invaluable service to the Kingdom, to its members, and to the engineering sciences. And I salute your technical and professional excellence over six decades.

You know, in petroleum engineering, we can become jaded by dealing with exceptional numbers. Millions of years, billions of barrels, trillions of cubic feet. For instance, in 1959, Aramco could produce one-million barrels a day. Today, ten-times that amount.

So in our line of work, a number like 60 could pale by comparison.

But in today's world, a “Diamond Anniversary” is as rare – and as precious – as the gem for which it is named. Very few organizations survive 60 years, and even fewer manage to grow in strength.

The Saudi Section of SPE has not only thrived over the last 60 years, in the process, you have become the Number 1 SPE section outside of the United States!

I am encouraging all organizations to work more actively to increase our membership. Because I believe 2019 is the year the Saudi Section can become Number 1. Not just outside the US, but Number 1 in the world!

And what better time to do so than as one of our own – Dr. Sami Alnuaim – begins his term as President of SPE International. While we have known Sami as a “rising star,” now SPE worldwide will come to know a light that has risen from this distinguished Section.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we celebrate a long and rich history.

But if there is one thing I know as a CEO, it is that I don't get paid to be a historian! I spend my time planning for the future. And I believe the next 60 years of this Section will prove to be even more exciting than our first. It will certainly be more challenging.

In fact, I believe the pressures our industry will face in the next chapter of our story will be immense, unlike any we have known before.

In this way, a “Diamond Anniversary” has special significance at this crucial time in our history. For a diamond is, in fact, the remarkable end-result of tremendous pressure.

It comes as no surprise to any of you that there are those who believe petroleum is a “sunset industry.”

That electric vehicles and alternative fuel sources will soon render fossil fuels just that – “a fossil of a bygone era.”

They believe this industry is “part of the problem” on climate change, with nothing positive to contribute to a more sustainable, environmentally sound future.

That a young person would be foolish to choose oil and gas for a promising career.

They will tell you with conviction that our best days are behind us.

But I can tell you, with even greater conviction, that I am as passionate about the future of this industry today as I was as a young member of SPE.

Even more so.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, I believe what some have mistaken as the “sunset” of our industry is, in fact, the “dawn” of an industry in transformation.

But only if we rise to the challenges and opportunities a new day offers.

We know the world needs more, not less, petroleum. 

That oil will be critical as the urban population increases by 2.5 billion by mid-century.

We know that while EVs and renewables make progress, it will be years, even generations, before they can shoulder a major share of global demand.

We know oil will be essential in chemicals, with crude oil as a feedstock possibly seeing the fastest growth of any demand sector.

At the same time, we face a natural decline in oil fields. And uncertainty in the markets, which prevents long-term investments in new discovery.

In the face of such historic pressures, if we are to remain competitive – an industry moving mankind forward – something extraordinary is required.

And that is transformation.

A transformation that reinvigorates our belief in what is possible.

Where we drive groundbreaking innovation, and better engage the public in our work and our vision.

Because if we are to succeed in a very challenging future, message will be as important as mission.

The mission is clear: we must reclaim our position as an industry at the cutting edge.

We have the opportunity to use the powerful tools of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to unlock new value in both our natural and human resources. To increase discovery and recovery, reduce costs, enhance safety and protect the environment.

We must collaborate in this space like never before. Because through collaboration among service providers, engineering companies, equipment manufacturers, petroleum producers, universities and many others, we can achieve more together than any of us can alone.

At the same time, we must be stronger advocates for our message.

A perfect example is with climate change, where we must continue working to reduce the GHG footprint of hydrocarbon. But we must also correct misperceptions and better communicate the progress we are already making.

There is a promising story unfolding, and it must be told with a stronger voice.

A story of our investment and progress in R&D, in cleaner combustion technologies, carbon capture and utilization, and our work with OGCI, for instance. Or the fact that the Kingdom has been recognized for managing oil fields with the lowest carbon intensity of any major producer.

By taking ownership of our message, we can become an industry that is once again known for innovation.

One that draws young talent – including female talent – like a powerful magnet.

This is crucial to our success, and it is an area where SPE can help tremendously.

Ladies and gentlemen, transformation, like a diamond, has many facets. And there are others we can talk about.

But I share this challenge with you because I believe in the power of SPE.

With a 60-year track record of accomplishment and success, I believe SPE is capable of shaping the agenda of our industry.

And so, in our “Diamond Year” I challenge all of us to work together to harness the tremendous pressures we face, and use this to produce something truly remarkable.

An industry with a renewed passion for innovation, a clear vision of its role in the future, and the belief that we have much more to contribute to the betterment of mankind.

Let us build that future – and tell that story – together.

Thank you, and congratulations.