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Saudi Aramco at 75

 


Saudi Aramco at 75: Partnering to Meet the Challenges of the Knowledge Society
Abdallah S. Jum’ah 
President & Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco
 

 

   

Editor’s Note:

This May marks the 75th Anniversary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s concessionary agreement with Standard Oil of California that made possible the early oil exploration in the Kingdom. In commemoration of this event, SUSRIS presents remarks made by Abdallah S. Jum’ah, President & Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 2008.

We would like to thank the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations for providing a transcript of Mr. Jum’ah’s remarks.

   

 

Saudi Aramco at 75: Partnering to Meet the Challenges of the Knowledge Society
Abdallah S. Jum’ah, President & Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. It is a great pleasure to be with you tonight at this wonderful venue. I would like to express my appreciation to the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington for his kind words of welcome. I would also like to thank the Library’s staff for their hospitality, and of course for their care and contributions to the world’s most expansive collection of human knowledge and artistic expression.

King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud (Photo Courtesy Selwa Press)[Click for Larger Image]Tonight we have the opportunity to celebrate with you the milestone that is Saudi Aramco’s 75th anniversary. In fact, it was 75 years ago this month that the original concession agreement was signed between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and representatives of the Standard Oil Company of California-predecessor to today’s Chevron — which opened our country to oil exploration. It took another five long years of prospecting and perseverance, but eventually oil was found in commercial quantities just down the road from our company’s present-day headquarters in Dhahran.

Just as this Library preserves the treasures of the past for the benefit of current and future generations, our company’s history is very much a living part of which we are at Saudi Aramco today, and how we will maintain our reputation for reliability in the future. The intrepid spirit of those early pioneers is still with us, as is the deep sense that the energy we provide is an indispensable resource which enables much of modern life, and by extension human progress.

We are also here to celebrate 75 years of commitment to two ideals that are at the core of who we are as a company. The first is a conviction that our greatest resource is the limitless potential of the human mind. The second is that great things are possible through cooperation and the sharing of knowledge.

L-R: Soak Hoover, Hugh Burchfield, Doc Nomland, Bert Miller, Krug Henry, and Felix Dreyfus. Jubail - February 1934 (Photo Courtesy Selwa Press)[Click for Larger Image]The story of Aramco is one of partnership, not only between a group of US oil companies and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also among generations of individual Americans, Saudis and the citizens of dozens of other nations. These so-called “Aramcons” lived and worked together for many decades, transforming a speculative search for oil into the world’s leading provider of petroleum.

They raised their families side by side, forged lifelong friendships, and demonstrated that people from different cultures and societies can together accomplish extraordinary feats that benefit the entire world.

Our story of cooperation is still being written, and today we have more than 50 different nationalities represented among our workforce in Saudi Arabia and around the world — including, of course, right here in the United States.

Burzon House; Henry-Miller expedition leaving Jubail to establish the base camp at Jabal Dhahran, 1934. (Photo Courtesy Selwa Press) [Click Here for Larger Image]The bonds that developed between Americans and Saudis working at Aramco are enduring, and I am confident that our shared future will only grow brighter.

If you talk to any of my countrymen who have studied or worked here in the US as young men or women, they will tell you about an individual or a family-be it a caring neighbor, a kind professor, a newfound friend or a thoughtful colleague-who made an effort to ease their transition into an unfamiliar society. I know the same holds true for the many Americans who have lived in Saudi Arabia over the years, and who can tell similar tales. Their stories may be anecdotal, but they underscore the values we hold in common, like the importance Americans and Saudis place on hospitality.

Tonight, as we Aramcons look back on 75 years of achievement, we take pride in our company’s history, and in the values and traits which we have in common with those early trailblazers.

As we look to the next 75 years, we are faced with many daunting challenges. The world’s population is growing and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. At the same time, more and more people in the developing world are demanding to share in the prosperity achieved by the developed countries. The world’s ability to provide food, energy and clean water is already showing signs of strain.

As the world’s leading exporter of energy, Saudi Aramco fully appreciates the challenges that lie ahead. The core ideals that served us so well during our first 75 years will help meet the challenges ahead. As we work to provide the energy supplies needed to power a growing global economy, while simultaneously addressing environmental concerns, our greatest strength will continue be the collective talents of our people. To help them realize their potential, we are investing heavily in education, training and development, because the knowledge they gain will not only benefit the company, but also the world.

Click for larger map.Along these lines, a key objective of our Saudi Aramco Management Development Seminar, whose members are here tonight, is to ensure that our emerging leaders are fully aware of the changing economic, political and technological forces that must be understood in order to successfully implement our corporate strategy in the years to come. I’d like to take a moment to ask these young leaders to stand and be recognized for their participation in this prestigious program.

These individuals, and their colleagues, are the future of Saudi Aramco, and they will help to ensure that we deliver energy to the world for generations to come.

As steward of massive oil and gas reserves, Saudi Aramco is committed to meeting the world’s needs for petroleum. Managing these reserves to ensure maximum benefit requires us to recognize the ever-increasing role that generating and applying knowledge will play in the future. Saudi Aramco believes that by encouraging innovation we will enhance the reliability of our operations and strengthen our capability to meet our commitment.

Photo: Royal Embassy of Saudi ArabiaIn my tenure as Saudi Aramco’s president & CEO, I have made “unleashing the genie of innovation” one of my primary objectives. To achieve this goal, we emphasize individual development through a well-established culture of learning and mentoring that spans the organization… I am pleased with the results we have seen thus far.

For example, our online Idea Management System has received more than 62,000 suggestions from employees on ways to conduct our activities and operations more efficiently, more safely, and with less environmental impact.

We have also brought greater focus to our research and development initiatives through both our R&D Center, where work is progressing on issues like cleaner burning fuels, more efficient engine designs and carbon sequestration, and our upstream Research Center, where the focus is on innovative technologies, including the application of nanotechnology and extreme reservoir contact wells.

Furthermore, Saudi Aramco has a number of longstanding “knowledge partnerships” with American companies and institutions. Many of our young people have benefited greatly from the opportunity to study at America’s finest universities. We place great value on these mutually-beneficial relationships.

And now, Saudi Arabia is beginning to implement the vision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdul’aziz of creating a world-class research university, advancing the development of the knowledge society not only in Saudi Arabia, but indeed the entire world.

Rendering of King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (Rendering: KAUST)The King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, or KAUST, has set for itself the mission of becoming one of the world’s great research institutions; of developing future generations of scientists, researchers, engineers and technologists; and of fostering collaboration and cooperation with other leading knowledge centers, as well as the private sector. When it opens its doors next year, KAUST will feature a faculty and student body of men and women drawn from throughout Saudi Arabia and across the world. Saudi Aramco is honored to have been given the extraordinary challenge of realizing the King’s vision for KAUST.

As Dr. Billington mentioned, the Library of Congress and KAUST are now working together to convene an international advisory committee to map out a strategy to identify, digitize, catalog, and annotate significant historical documents and manuscripts related to science in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and to publish those materials in UNESCO’s World Digital Library and other digital library collections. It is gratifying to see that the seed of partnership that has marked the Saudi Aramco experience has found fertile ground in KAUST as well. A number of KAUST officials and some of the American educators who have played an important role in the development of the University are with us this evening, and I would like to thank each of you for your continued contributions to this exciting and transformative institution.

Our commitment to partnership extends to our commercial operations, where we have ongoing and new joint ventures in major markets around the world. I am happy to see representatives of our joint venture partners here tonight.

I take special pride in mentioning that Motiva – our joint venture with Shell here in the U.S. – broke ground in December 2007 on a $7 billion project to expand its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Upon completion in 2010, this investment will provide 325,000 barrels per day of additional gasoline and other petroleum products to U.S. domestic markets. The expansion will increase the refinery’s crude throughput capacity to 600,000 barrels per day, making it the largest U.S. refinery. In addition, the project is expected to generate over 4,500 construction jobs and as many as 300 new permanent jobs upon completion.

My friends some of you may have noticed the image of an astrolabe which appears on the cover of tonight’s program. The astrolabe is a fitting symbol for tonight’s gathering. For those of you not familiar with this instrument, the astrolabe was utilized by generations of Arab and Muslim scholars, scientists and navigators to ascertain the positions of the sun and the moon, the planets and the stars-and thus to better understand their own place in the cosmos. It was a sophisticated tool that facilitated global interaction and the acquisition and transfer of knowledge.

The astrolabe is an incredible technical innovation, a tangible reminder of the achievements of Islamic civilization, and a powerful example of man’s efforts to understand the world through observation and thought.

Likewise, the Library of Congress has played a major role in the preservation and dissemination of knowledge throughout the world. In its extensive collections, this repository of knowledge holds millions of manifestations of the unbelievable creativity of the human mind.

Without doubt, petroleum energy will continue to play a vital role in shaping the world of tomorrow and in ensuring that future generations enjoy prosperous lives, and can live them to their fullest potential. And yet that energy source is limited when compared to the limitless energy of the human mind. Like snowflakes falling one after another finally create an avalanche, human thoughts amass to create breakthroughs for the benefit of humankind. As Shelley wrote in Prometheus Unbound:

As thought by thought is piled, till some great truth
Is loosened, and the nations echo round
Shaken to their roots: as do the mountains now.

We at Saudi Aramco continue to believe in the power of knowledge and innovation. For all of our vast petroleum reserves, our extensive industrial infrastructure, our world-scale computer centers and our complex technical equipment, the intellectual capabilities of the men and women of Saudi Aramco remain far and away the most powerful tools at our disposal.

Likewise, I believe that their ability to create, synthesize and utilize knowledge will drive our next 75 years of providing energy to the world, and enable us to perform that role for many generations to come.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention and for your presence with us this evening.

Source: NCUSAR

   

ABOUT ABDALLAH S. JUM’AH

Abdallah S. Jum'ahAbdallah S. Jum’ah is president and chief executive officer of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), which manages the world’s largest proven oil reserves and is the world’s largest producer of crude oil and a leading player in the gas and refining businesses. He serves on Saudi Aramco’s Board of Directors and on the Saudi Arabian Supreme Council of Petroleum and Mineral Affairs, chaired by the King.

Jum’ah was born in al-Khobar in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. He studied political science at the American University in Cairo and at the American University of Beirut, and later completed the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His career in Saudi Aramco began in 1968. He was elected Aramco vice president of Power Systems in 1981, and was named senior vice president and later executive vice president of International Operations. In 1995, he was named president and chief executive officer. Since taking the helm of Saudi Aramco, Jum’ah has led the far-reaching expansion of its downstream and gas businesses and continued transforming the company into a fully integrated international oil and gas enterprise. Under his leadership, the company has also refocused its strategic direction, to maintain its prominent position as the world’s premier energy supplier.

In 2003 Jum’ah was identified by Fortune magazine as one of the most influential business people in the world, and in January 2005, he was appointed energy community leader by the World Economic Forum. Jum’ah was selected as winner of the prestigious Petroleum Executive of the Year Award for 2005. In March 2007, Jum’ah was elected vice chairman of the International Advisory Board at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and in April 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Hankuk University in Seoul, Korea. In December 2007, Jum’ah was appointed by King Abdullah to serve on the supreme committee of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), which oversees KACST’s mission of promoting and supporting applied scientific research to foster the Kingdom’s ongoing economic and social advancement.

Jum’ah is known for his innovative approach to business and his strong interest in developing leaders. He is married and has four children. He is a former athlete and is actively involved in promoting voluntary community service. His personal interests are broad and multifaceted, ranging from hiking to in-depth reading in art and culture.

   

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