Saudi Aramco Shares Strategies for Navigating Economic Downturn at MEOS 2015

Success through innovation and collaboration was the predominant message at the 19th Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference (MEOS 2015) held in Bahrain, which was themed “Energy Beyond Limits Through Innovation and Collaboration.” With the historically cyclical industry in the midst of a downturn, MEOS 2015 turned out to be a show of force for oil and gas producers and their service providers, with more than 8,000 visitors from the region and overseas attending. “Our industry has proven over the current decade to be resilient despite the ups and downs,” said Bahrain Energy Minister HE Abdulhussain Mirza during his speech in the opening ceremony. “. We continue to plan long-term, we continue to invest more in technology and we will continue to create global partnerships and alliances.” Strategies to repel the downturn In a plenary session composed of global industry leaders, Amin H. Nasser, Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president of Upstream, said this year’s theme was “a clear challenge to harness game-changing innovation” and “push back the boundaries specific to the business climate we are experiencing today. “The challenge of keeping up during a downturn is more complicated today than ever before,” he said. “But we have seen how that approach to a spending crunch plays out. Indeed, we are still living with the consequences. The reduced investment in technology and talent that characterized the 1980s and early ‘90s should remind us that repercussions can be lasting.” He outlined a three-pronged strategy to navigating the economic downturn, beginning with a commitment to stay the course on investment in fit-for-purpose innovation and technologies. He cited an example of Saudi Aramco doing just that on one project in Abqaiq during a previous downturn, with the move ultimately proving fruitful after the development of new technology. “Sustained investment is crucial,” he said. “Clearly, in a business that is long-term, investment must also be long-term.” The second aspect of the strategy involves expanding the parameters of innovation, which Saudi Aramco has done by partnering with academia. Nasser explained that alliances with universities throughout the Kingdom, as well as the development of several research centers globally, have provided the cornerstones for the company’s commitment to this “paradigm shift.” The signing of the Saudi Arabia Advanced Research Alliance (SAARA) last year has brought together academic, research and industry stakeholders to refine and transform early-stage technologies into products and outcomes. This, and Saudi Aramco’s ongoing support for the Dhahran Techno-Valley research and innovation hub, is further evidence of the company’s commitment to collaborating for success. The third component of maintaining momentum through a challenging period involves leveraging low cost market parameters, working with service-providers to improve efficiencies and manage an expectation of long-range planning. Underinvestment, he said, in any of the three areas outlined, has historically proven to be problematic and difficult to reverse. “In every challenge, there is a sea of opportunity,” Nasser concluded. “And progress need not take a back seat.” The event was held under the patronage of HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, MEOS 2015 and organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers.