SEOUL, October 22, 2008 --  International finance, higher education and cultural relations were on the agenda as Saudi Aramco’s executive vice president of Operations toured the Far East to visit company affiliates, customers and government officials.

Al-Falih's Far East Visit a Busy One Khalid A. Al-Falih, seated at center, joins Saudi Aramco and Aramco Overseas Co. — Hong Kong staff for a group photo. With him are Ayman Shasly, joint venture portfolio manager for Fujian, seated at left; Ibrahim Buainain, director of the Asia Joint Venture Department, seated, second from left; Osamah Andejani, JV portfolio manager for Showa Shell, seated, fourth from left; Mansour Al-Mansour, business manager of Asia Joint Ventures, back row at left; and Ziyad Al-Juraifani, JV portfolio manager for S-Oil, back row, second from left.

Khalid A. Al-Falih began his weeklong tour Oct. 2 in Hong Kong. At a dinner and reception, he met with executives from the Asia offices of Shell, Exxon Mobil and Total, along with financiers, academics and Aramco Overseas Co. (AOC) personnel.

The international financial crisis and its relationship to Saudi Aramco’s Asian projects and investments were key topics of discussion. Al-Falih noted the important advisory role that financial institutions play in Saudi Aramco’s decision-making process and discussed the company’s stable commitments throughout Asia.

During a tour of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Al-Falih said he was pleased by the strong rapport between that institution and the fledgling King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), now under construction near the Red Sea port of Rabigh.

After meeting with AOC Hong Kong staff, Al-Falih traveled to the Saudi Aramco Sino Co. (SASC) offices in Xiamen and toured the Fujian Project construction site.

The project, which includes a 240,000 bpd refinery and will produce 2 million metric tons of petrochemicals a year, is now 90 percent complete. Startup should begin early next year and be completed by June, when the facility’s ethylene unit is expected to go on line.

SASC hosted a dinner and reception at which Al-Falih met with Saudi Aramco employees on loan to the Fujian Joint Ventures and Saudi Aramco students studying at Xiamen University.

On the last leg of his trip, Al-Falih landed in the Republic of Korea and visited Ulsan, home of S-Oil’s refinery. At the refinery complex, he met with S-Oil vice chairman and CEO Ahmed A. Subaey and the company’s management team before touring the refinery and its facilities.

That evening, he flew to Geoje, where he thanked the site team from Vela International Marine and shipyard management at a dinner gathering.

On Oct. 9, SPL Tokyo arranged meetings with customers in the region, including Hyundai Oil Bank, SK Energy and GS Caltex. Al-Falih discussed Saudi Aramco’s oil supply strategy in the Asian markets. After the meeting, he hosted a lunch for Saudi Aramco students studying in Korea and met with the president of Seoul National University and discussed the collaboration between the university and KAUST.

Al-Falih also visited the offices of engineering contractors executing important projects for Saudi Aramco in Korea and held meetings with their management as well as separate meetings with the Saudi Aramco teams overseeing those projects.

During an interview with a leading Korean newspaper, Al-Falih discussed the important work of the Korea-Arab Society, which was recently launched to boost economic and social cooperation between Korea and Arab nations.

“These days, there is a construction boom in the Middle East to expand its infrastructure and manufacturing base,” he said. “I think this will provide many opportunities for top Korean companies to participate. I hope the society also will work on people-to-people relations and the promotion of a better understanding of Arab culture and the true values of the Arab world in Korea.”