Saudi Aramco further enhanced its reputation as a leading global company on issues of corporate relevance by hosting the recent International Treasurers’ Forum, which featured two days of discussions involving treasurers and finance leaders from major oil and petrochemical companies around the world.
“This gathering is not about Saudi Aramco,” Mohammad A. Al-Ali, senior vice president of Finance, said in opening the forum on Oct. 23 at the North Park auditorium. “It is about further development of mutually beneficial relationships — relationships that will lead to better understanding of both the global challenges facing the oil, energy, mineral resource and chemicals industries — and the likely impacts of these challenges on treasury practices.”
Topics covered at the forum included foreign exchange and interest rates, credit risk, central banks’ monetary policies and quantitative easing, corporate governance, Islamic financing and pension investment.
Guests participating in the forum included treasurers and senior finance executives from Dow Chemical, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Total S.A., Marathon, Sumitomo Chemical, Indian Oil Co., Sinopec, Sabic, Ma’aden and SEC, in addition to Saudi Aramco’s entire treasury organization, consisting of members of management, subject matter experts (SMEs) and Professional Development Program (PDP) employees.
The second day of the forum featured lively discussions on corporate governance featuring topics such as the optimal level of delegation to avail time for business issues, balanced policies and procedures to encourage entrepreneurship in business, emerging challenges faced in corporate governance, credit rating agencies considerations in addressing governance issues into rating and the effectiveness of treasury risk-related committees.
At the conclusion of the forum, Saudi Aramco treasurer Jamal A. Al-Rammah thanked the participants who took the time to share their expertise. “It is comforting to see the participation and contributions of our 38 young people who will be the future leaders of Treasury,” said Al-Rammah. “I personally learned a lot from these discussions. There were different philosophies presented that were very beneficial for us and our colleagues.” He added that the connections made through the forum will also serve to “establish a network of conversation” on important topics pertaining to treasury and finance on an ongoing basis.
The forum also drew high praise from the experts who participated. “I think that it’s a hallmark of a world-class company that they set the standard for others in organizing events such as this forum,” Andy Longden, group treasurer with Shell, stated in his closing remarks. “It shows that Saudi Aramco is the vanguard of companies globally.” Longden added that one of the key things he will take away from the forum was that “I think we all found a commonality of interests that can be shared.”
“I agree very much that Saudi Aramco is in a unique position to bring these companies together in a way that others can’t,” said Timothy T. Griffith, vice president of finance and treasurer with Marathon Petroleum Corp.
Fernando Ruiz, corporate vice president and treasurer with Dow Chemical Co., also valued the experience offered by the forum. “I really liked the format that gave us an opportunity to see more of the Saudi Aramco team. All in all, I think it was a big success.”
Navin K. Mahajan, assistant treasurer with Chevron, echoed those thoughts. “Overall, I think it really was an excellent format,” said Mahajan. “I learned a lot just listening to my colleagues. I think this forum really showed that you are at the forefront of companies.”
“We have seen that we all seem to have the same issues,” said Olivier Devouassoux, group vice president of finance-corporate and structured finance operating subsidiaries with Total. “(Through this forum), we can see the experiences of the different companies and take value and learn from those experiences.”
More than 7,100 dead and 39,100 injured. These are not the figures from the aftermath of a war or a battle. Tragically, they represent the victims of reckless driving on the Kingdom’s roads each year.
Behind the numbers are shattered families who have to come to terms with the death or injury of a loved one. Since its inception, Saudi Aramco has made a commitment to help the Kingdom and its people prosper. For the company’s Traffic Safety Signature Program (TSSP), that means reducing the number of dead and injured on the Kingdom’s roads and highways.
“It’s part of our corporate and social responsibility that we find a solution to this problem,” said Sultan Zahrani, TSSP director.
“It’s a priority for the company and Kingdom. We are partnering with the government to make the Kingdom a safer place for all,” he added.
The company’s road safety activities go back more than 50 years. The work program was initially set up in 1959 as an internal initiative to help improve the driving habits of employees after a company survey of nonwork-related injuries and deaths revealed that more than 90 percent of cases were due to traffic-related accidents.
This prompted the company into action, and the TSSP was established.
“It’s now part of the safety culture of the company,” said Zahrani.
The Kingdom’s traffic accident statistics make for grim reading. The past two decades have seen a rapid growth in the numbers of people killed and injured on Saudi roads.
Last year, there were a staggering 540,000 motor vehicle accidents in the Kingdom — which translates to one accident per each minute of the day — leading to 7,135 fatalities and 39,000 serious and often crippling, injuries.
In addition to the loss of life, traffic accidents are a huge strain on the national economy, costing the Kingdom billions of riyals annually.
To have a comprehensive impact on improving road safety, society and change of driving habits, Saudi Aramco has partnered with local government agencies.
Some of the fruits of this cooperation can be seen in the formation of the Eastern Province Traffic Safety Council (EPTSC) in 2012. Taken seriously by both the local government and Saudi Aramco, the council is chaired by HH Prince Jalawi Bin Abdulaziz Bin Musaid, deputy governor of the Eastern Province. Saudi Aramco is represented by Abdulaziz F. Al-Khayyal, senior vice president of Industrial Relations.
They are joined by other key stakeholders, among them being the directors of Traffic Police, Highway Security, Red Crescent, Health Affairs and Eastern Province Education, as well as directors of roads and mayors of Eastern Province and al-Hasa.
The EPTSC has become a cornerstone of the company’s TSSP. The EPTSC strategy is focused on four dimensions known as the four E’s: enforcement, education, engineering and emergency. The local government partnerships are critical in ensuring the success of the strategy.
“We spend a lot of our time out of the office, meeting people and implementing projects,” said Ziad Al-Kadi from TSSP. “At the end of the day, our objective is to change people’s driving habits, and that requires getting out there, educating and spreading the message.”
HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and chairman of Saudi Aramco’s Board of Directors, and HE Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja, the Minister of Culture and Information, both paid independent visits to the Ithra Knowledge Program last week. The program is one of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture outreach activities.
Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, was on the site to receive both ministers.
Al-Naimi expressed his admiration for the Center’s program that carries the name of the Kingdom’s founder and is nurturing future generations. He was also impressed with the iSpark school visitation program and the big role that young people play in the program.
“Those youth are renewable energies and hopefully will go on to become inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs,” he said. He noted that the jewel of the program is developing people to become more aware and creative while supporting the values of knowledge related to safety and environmental protection.
At the conclusion of his visit, Al-Naimi emphasized the importance of conserving energy and raising awareness about electricity efficiency. He said that he was impressed with the section in the program about energy efficiency that was developed in cooperation with Saudi Center for Energy Efficiency. He said that he looked forward to seeing national companies and institutions spreading these concepts through their contributions.
During his visit, Al-Naimi spoke about the relationship between hosting knowledge programs that encourage young people to learn about science and technology and its impact on diversifying the Kingdom’s industry and economy.
“We have a developed oil and gas sector, and God willing, we will have an advanced mining and petrochemical industry,” he said.
During Dr. Khoja’s earlier visit to Ithra, the Minister for Culture and Information praised the uniqueness of the program due to its knowledge and cultural activities and said that it was a step in the right direction in creating a knowledge based society. He added that Saudi Aramco had proven its community leadership by developing programs such as Ithra that serve the Kingdom’s values and aspirations. The minister also stressed the strategic partnership between Saudi Aramco and the Ministry of Culture and Information in promoting cultural initiatives, programs and projects.
He went on to praise Saudi Aramco’s leadership in “spreading knowledge and establishing learning institutions in every city of the Kingdom.”
Upon arrival at the site Dr. Khoja was given a brief presentation on the program before heading to the modern art gallery at the Centre Pompidou. This was followed by a visit to the energy conservation pavilion before he was taken to the Ibn al-Haytham gallery. He expressed his admiration for the more than 500 volunteers who provide 50 per cent of the operating capacity for the program.
He noted that they represent model Saudis who embody the spirit of giving by offering their services to the community and Kingdom.
At a time when the chemicals industry is burgeoning throughout the region, more than 600 chemists and engineers participated in the ninth International Chemistry in Industry Conference and Exhibition (ChemIndix 2013) Nov. 2-6.
“Every successive ChemIndix conference becomes more consequential as the Gulf region emerges as a global hub for the chemical industry,” Saudi Aramco senior vice president of Downstream Abdulrahman A. Al Wuhaib said in his keynote speech. “Saudi Aramco is determined to go beyond innovations that only sustain or incrementally increase existing production.”
ChemIndix 2013 offered chemical practitioners, professionals and students “an exciting platform on which to learn and discuss issues of common interests,” as well as providing an excellent networking opportunity, according to conference chairman Abbas Al-Ghamdi.
“Energy Transformation: Feasibility to Sustainability” was the theme for the event. Sponsored by Saudi Aramco, the event provided an opportunity for engineers in the Middle East to learn about solving technical challenges in the oil and chemicals industries. The conference featured dozens of national and international speakers.
Al Wuhaib said Saudi Aramco and the Kingdom’s institutions are embracing best practices in the chemical industry: integrating entrepreneurial education into engineering and science programs, cultivating small and medium size enterprises and investing in research and development.
Al Wuhaib pointed to King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology commercialization program to deliver technology from research and development to the market. Wa’ed, the Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center, is cultivating a culture of innovation by providing training, due diligence and funding for individuals who want to start new businesses in Saudi Arabia. Sadara and the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu‘ are developing the PlasChem Value Park, a complex for hosting conversion industries and a fostering environment for small and medium businesses, he added.
“Saudi Aramco and other institutions in the Kingdom are committed for the very long-term to invest in the discovery of things that enterprising chemists dream of — for example, breakthroughs in converting CO2 to other chemicals,” Al Wuhaib said. Saudi Aramco will increase its funding and expansion of human resources in research and development to reach that goal. Additionally, the company is going to leverage its new network of satellite research centers in North America, Europe and East Asia.
HE Dr. Khalid Al-Sulaiman, vice president of Renewable Energy at King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, said fossil fuels will be the primary source of energy for the foreseeable future. He pointed out that chemistry will play a role in overcoming technical challenges in renewable energy, such as storing energy.
Adel Al-Moayyed, chairman of the Bahrain Petroleum Co. Board, spoke about the upgrading of chemical processes at Bahrain refineries to reduce sulfur in the products and protect the environment.
Meanwhile, scientists and engineers from Saudi Aramco spoke about the company’s latest scientific endeavors. Sai P. Katikaneni of the Research and Development Center spoke about “Catalyst Development of Diesel Pre-Reforming for Methane Rich Gas Production.” Taha M. Okasha of the EXPEC Advanced Research Center presented a case study about “Wettability Evaluation of Arabian Carbonate Reservoir after Prolonged Water Injection.” Additionally, the conference featured regional and international chemists and engineers who explored the latest trends in the field (see box).
The event’s exhibition gave participants the opportunity to learn about the most advanced solutions in the chemical and hydrocarbon industries.
Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, adviser to HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa for Industrial and Petroleum Affairs, inaugurated the event.
Executives from Saudi Aramco, Total, and their joint venture, Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co. (SATORP) met this week to see the latest progress on the SATORP conversion refinery in Jubail.
The meeting and site visit was a follow-up of an earlier gathering of CEOs in April, and it provided a chance for Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih, Total chairman Christophe de Margerie and SATORP CEO Fawwaz I. Nawwab to mark the latest steps in the refinery’s construction. The visit also allowed the company executives a chance to examine plans for the refinery’s scheduled full startup.
“This visit marks an important milestone for SATORP, and for the partnership between Saudi Aramco and Total,” said Nawwab. “By now, construction is nearly complete, and many of our units at SATORP Refinery are already producing products for local and international markets. As we move toward our final startup in the next few months, we are ensuring that SATORP delivers on its commitments to provide reliable petrochemical and fuel products to our customers, as well as a new catalyst for economic growth in the Kingdom.”
With the creation of SATORP, two oil industry giants — Saudi Aramco and Total — have agreed to combine their strengths at a crucial time in the global economy, as the world’s demand for energy and for petrochemical products continues to increase. Initially signed in 2006, with construction commencing in 2010, SATORP has become a key driver for industrial development and growth in Jubail and a magnet for local and foreign investment.
SATORP refinery will produce ultra-low sulphur refined products including gasoline, kerosene, and diesel complemented with different quantities of petrochemical products such as benzene, paraxylene and propylene to enhance the economic return of the complex. Petroleum coke is another product that will be produced in the Kingdom for the first time.
Joint ventures such as SATORP are not only incubators for Saudi-owned small- and medium-size manufacturers and service providers. They fit into Saudi Aramco’s commitment to foster a knowledge-based economy in which thousands of well-paid Saudi technicians, engineers and operators can find exciting job opportunities. Current employment at SATORP has reached 1,262, including secondees from Saudi Aramco and Total.
As of Oct. 31, 99.4 percent of the overall project had reached completion. Currently, 90.9 percent of refinery units have been handed over to operation. The overall project cost is expected to be under budget.
With several units already in full operation, SATORP is already marking its presence on the global markets. The first production of hydrogen commenced in March. The first crude unit was handed over to operation in April. And as of September, SATORP successfully and safely launched its first shipment of 80 tons of fuel oil at King Fahad Industrial Port (KFIP), where Saudi Aramco lifted this shipment. Shipments of various products have followed.