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Aramco keeps projects progress despite COVID-19 – CEO

Aramco keeps projects progress despite COVID-19 – CEO
Amin Nasser, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco
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Riyadh – Mubasher: The Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) has faced major challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic while its preparedness helped manage the crisis, the company’s president and CEO, Amin Nasser, said on Monday.

The worst is behind us, Nasser said during a virtual meeting currently held by Asharqia Chamber, adding that the oil demand decreased by around 75-80 million barrels at the beginning of the second quarter (Q2) in 2020 and is on its way to recover.

Aramco has reclassified pandemics as the main risk factor. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the company completed the acquisition of a 70% stake in the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and managed to cut its operating and capital expenses.

Aramco was able to utilise its solid infrastructure well during the pandemic, he continued, adding that the Saudisation level in the company was 35% in 2015 and is now 56%, and the company is looking forward to reaching 70% through its In-Kingdom Total Value Added (iktva) programme.

Advancements in key projects 

Meanwhile, Nasser revealed that around 60% of the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) project, spanning 50 square kilometres, is now complete while the first phase of the city will be finalised over the next year. 

Current investments in the city amount to $3.5 billion, while the kingdom invested $1.6 billion in infrastructure works. Investors, spearheaded by Schlumberger, started implementing their projects.

Aramco eyes to invest SAR 1.8 billion in the city. Over the upcoming 15 years, the national economy will add returns of $6 billion and 100,000 direct and indirect job opportunities will be created.

Moreover, investments in King Salman International Complex for Maritime Industries and Services total $5 billion. Main companies investing in the project are Aramco, Hyundai, and Bahri, among others.

About 40% of the said project has been implemented and is set to complete in 2022. The complex targets to localise the tanker industry, ships and drilling platforms, and floating oil rigs.

The two investments are pivotal projects for Saudi Aramco and the kingdom, Nasser further remarked, highlighting that infrastructure projects encourage local and global companies to invest.

Digital transformation at Aramco

Commenting on digital transformation, he noted that half of the employees in Dhahran, Buqayq, and Ras Tanura worked from home during the pandemic so as to ensure that the company’s businesses are progressing normally.

He added that the company recently launched a dedicated department for digital transformation, stressing that it is now focusing on cybersecurity.  

The oil giant has conducted a comprehensive revision of its projects with contractors and provided stimulus measures for some companies, contractors, and service providers since March.

Furthermore, the company has temporarily halted some provisions related to projects and services, including those related to Saudisation, due to the pandemic and as companies face monetary challenges.

Raising the output to a new record of 12 million barrels during 20 days testifies the company’s capability and credibility, Nasser added.