2002 Speech

Remarks in Texas by Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi
[Aramco reception, Houston, during Crown Prince Abdullah's visit to Texas, USA]

Your Royal Highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Premier and Commander of the National Guard:
Your Highnesses:
The Honorable Lee Brown – Mayor of the City of Houston:
Your Excellencies:
Ladies and gentlemen:
I am honored to welcome your Royal Highness on my behalf and on behalf of the Saudi Aramco Board of Directors and its employees.
I pray to Almighty God that you succeed in your efforts to help the Arab and Islamic worlds prosper. And pray to God that he helps you achieve a just peace in the Middle East. Your peace initiative that the Arab Summit adopted represents one of Saudi Arabia’s policy foundations of achieving a just and lasting peace … and providing prosperity, stability and security for all countries and peoples of the region.

We are happy that you are with us today in Houston as you honored us in so many occasions in the past. Thank you – your Royal Highness – for your continuing support of Saudi Aramco.

Your Royal Highness:
Fifty-eight years ago … in 1944 to be exact … during the reign of your father, the founder of the Kingdom - King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud – his majesty King Faisal visited Texas … touring a number of petroleum facilities. Texas was then considered the largest producer of oil in the world. Three years later, Kind Saud visited Texas. 

Between the visits of their majesties King Saud and King Faisal and your visit here to Texas – the international petroleum industry has gone through significant changes by all standards and levels – which impacted the petroleum industry of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

In 1945, world oil consumption was about 7 million barrels a day. Now it is more than 76 million barrels a day. At that time, the United States was producing 60% of the world’s petroleum needs and half of this was coming from the State of Texas.

The Kingdom was then producing only 58,000 barrels of oil a day, which was half of one percent of the world’s oil production. And the Kingdom’s reserves were 2 billion barrels, which was less than five percent of the global petroleum reserves then. Today, the production capacity of the Kingdom is more than 10 million barrels of oil per day – and its reserves are 262 billion barrels, representing 25% of world reserves. And its share of global production is 12 percent.

These changes – which are significant by all standards, reflect the transformation of the international petroleum industry over the past five decades. Such changes, no doubt, will continue through the coming decades at an even faster pace.

Your Royal Highness and distinguished guests:

During the recent past, the Kingdom has built a strong and integrated oil industry supported by economic, social and political stability…helping the industry to develop and contribute to the economy and to the training of Saudis to enable them to utilize the God given wealth by managing the industry to provide the Kingdom with maximum returns. In this respect, one recalls the vision of the Kingdom’s founder, when he approved the oil concession agreement with Standard Oil of California 70 years ago. He stipulated that the company employ and train Saudis. This important milestone was given significance through the following decades and led the Saudi petroleum industry to become the success it is today. These successes were achieved by relying on its indigenous work force, and international expertise.

Throughout its development, Saudi Aramco embodied an ambitious and determined spirit … which is reflected in the determination of its employees at all levels and the success and excellence of everything they do…and its ability to face all challenges. This spirit enabled the Americans and other nationalities to team up with the Saudis in exploring and developing the oil resources of the Kingdom.

The open mindedness of the Americans and Saudis was behind the success of the two working together – despite cultural differences. This spirit continues to guide Saudi Aramco’s workforce while the company is building oil and gas projects one after the other. This workforce is comprised of Saudis and Americans and many other nationalities that work together in harmony and cooperation. The company is distinguished by the availability and variety of talents and the training facilities available to develop human resources – and the clear determination to succeed and excel.

Here I want to emphasize that Saudi Arabia’s and the United States of America’s universities and institutes and training facilities have played … and continue to play … a role in developing the Saudi petroleum workforce. And because international expertise was – and still is – one of our goals, we started expanding our efforts in this area. Saudi Aramco began sending Saudi youths to study in China, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and other countries, with the objective of assigning them to work in the company’s facilities in those countries.

Your Royal Highness, distinguished guests:

As Saudi Aramco has been a model in openness and cultural diversity and cooperation – it is also a model in initiating and adapting to change. The company is continually seeking new ways of doing things better.

One of the significant examples of change in the Saudi petroleum industry is the expansion of local and international investments and developing joint ventures that cover drilling, seismic surveys, refining and lubricating oil. The Saudi petroleum industry has many joint ventures in Europe, Asia and the United States. We are proud of our relationship with our partners in these joint ventures.

Some of these joint ventures have evolved over years. For example, in our joint venture in the United States – Saudi Aramco worked with two of America’s largest oil companies. Another evidence of the adaptability and forward looking approach of the Saudi petroleum industry is Your Royal Highnesses’ initiative to develop gas reserves in the Kingdom to increase its availability for electricity generation, water desalination and other industrial purposes. We are working with the international companies in order to provide the appropriate investment climate to achieve the goals of this initiative and strengthen the ties between the Kingdom and the international companies concerned.

Your Royal Highness and distinguished guests:

The Saudi petroleum industry is the backbone of the Saudi economy. Its contribution is not limited to the production and distribution of petroleum, but covers many areas. For example, Saudi Aramco out-sources many of the support operations to the Saudi private sector, to enable it to increase its contribution to the economy.

We in the Ministry of Petroleum are embarking on establishing a publicly owned company, which will provide support services to the petroleum and energy sector. This covers engineering, seismic surveying, drilling, manufacturing of some products, and others. We are also studying the viability of privatizing some of Saudi Aramco’s operations.

Your Royal Highness:

The economic and political relations that bind the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and those that bind the Saudi petroleum industry and its American counterparts – especially in Texas – are strong. And our hope is that these relations continue to develop for the betterment of both sides. And that Saudi-American ties are not affected by those who might try to disrupt this relationship.

Your Royal Highness:

Please allow me to thank the Saudi Aramco retirees, many of them are attending this dinner tonight. They have proved over the years their friendship and love for Saudi Arabia and collaborated with their Saudi colleagues to build the Saudi petroleum industry. I would like to thank our American friends – individuals and organizations – who work to strengthen the relationship between the two countries for the benefit of both.

Your Royal Highness … ladies and gentlemen:

Again I want to thank you for attending our dinner tonight. May we meet again in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. And may the peoples of the world live in peace and harmony.