AMIN H. NASSER, PRESIDENT & CEO OF ARAMCO - WHAT NEXT FOR GLOBAL ENERGY?
Amin H. Nasser is the president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco, the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals enterprise, and the largest provider of crude oil to global markets. He is also a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
During a company career that spans more than three decades, Nasser has served in a number of leadership positions, including as senior vice president of Upstream. In that role, he led Saudi Aramco’s largest capital investment program in its integrated oil and gas portfolio. Under Nasser’s leadership, the company is now building on its upstream leadership position by expanding its presence in the downstream and chemicals segments of the petroleum value chain, with significant investments and joint-venture partnerships in the Kingdom as well as a number of overseas markets.
Nasser is actively engaged in the advancement of people through education and training, and advancing the company’s innovation and technology strategy. Nasser is a champion of Saudi youth advancement and development and keenly supports the company’s Young Leader’s Advisory Board (YLAB), a program designed to link Saudi Aramco leadership with the voice of its young professionals.
At the same time, Nasser is leading Saudi Aramco’s efforts to produce cleaner energy and products through investments in promising technologies such as next-generation fuel-engine interfaces, crude oil-to-chemicals processes, and renewable energy applications; entrepreneurial start-ups focused on cleaner energy solutions; and industry-wide efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). He is also an advocate for an efficient, accessible, and world-class supply chain ecosystem that includes small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support Saudi Aramco's growing procurement needs.
In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Nasser is a member of the International Advisory Board of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals; the Board of Directors of the Dhahran Techno Valley Company; the Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology; the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council (IBC); the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Presidential CEO Advisory Board; and the JP Morgan International Council.
As a long-time member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Nasser received the SPE's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, as well as the SPE's Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal awarded for distinguished achievement in mining administration, including metallurgy and petroleum in 2015. Nasser holds a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran. He completed the Saudi Aramco Management Development Seminar in Washington, D.C., in 1999; the Saudi Aramco Global Business Program in 2000; and the Senior Executive Program at Columbia University in 2002.
"We are harnessing technological advances and a spirit of innovation to usher in an even more reliable and more efficient energy sector. Our companies are engaging with their various stakeholders around the world to better meet society’s rising expectations. I have a strong belief that with technology and collaboration our industry can and will overcome the biggest of its future challenges—foremost among them, climate change."
COVID-19 challenges and lessons learned from 2020?
"For everyone around the world, 2020 was a tough year. A great deal of uncertainty still lies ahead. It has also reminded the world of an unavoidable truth: that reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy systems are mission-critical to delivering economic prosperity and meeting society’s expectations. Delivering those systems requires a clear vision and a pathway to success. In recent months we have successfully overcome the operational challenges posed by COVID-19, continuing to provide vital energy and indispensable products while safeguarding our people and our communities."
The role of existing energy sources in the future?
"As new energy technologies slowly grow their contribution in the evolving energy mix, existing energy sources will continue to play a key role for decades to come. That is why improving their carbon footprint is now a key worldwide economic and environmental imperative."
Aramco's role in tackling climate change?
"We are tackling issues related to carbon emissions and climate change from a proactive, leadership position, including through industry-wide collaborations. We are harnessing technological advances and a spirit of innovation to usher in an even more reliable and more efficient energy sector. Our companies are engaging with their various stakeholders around the world to better meet society’s rising expectations. I have a strong belief that with technology and collaboration our industry can and will overcome the biggest of its future challenges—foremost among them, climate change."
Aramco's legacy and impact on future generations?
"Looking back, it is clear that our sense of pride does not come from record production levels, or technical achievements, or operational milestones. It comes from belonging to a community where people care for each other, care for their country, and care for the planet. Those great achievements are the result of a system and a set of strategies, but more importantly, they are the product of a deep-seated culture of responsibility. From its earliest days, the company has always worked for all of its stakeholders, not just its shareholders. Contributing to society has always been part of our DNA."
Cybersecurity: a key strategic risk to global energy?
"While things like digitalization and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies are opening up new opportunities, it is also expanding the cyber-attack surface and threat landscape. In just five years' time, more than 75 billion Internet of Things devices will be running critical applications and infrastructure at nearly 1,000 times the speed today. This desirable fusion of traditional physical assets with the digital world also increases the risk of serious physical damage, at a 5G speed. Fortunately, the growing digitalization our enemies are using to attack us is also our strength and advantage in defense. At Saudi Aramco, we are increasing the pace of digitalization and state-of the-art technologies. We are also improving our situational awareness through predictive analytics to prioritize threat protection where it is needed most. The industry has indeed learned three valuable lessons:
Perfect cybersecurity does not exist.
Like managing blood pressure, our battle with this equally silent killer is continuous.
And we need to do all we can to stay a step ahead."
"By ensuring access to ample energy, our industry continues to power economies and lift billions out of poverty. Despite great progress, roughly one billion people still lack access to reliable electricity. Close to three billion people still rely primarily on unclean biomass, wood, and coal for their cooking needs.... and with Africa’s population alone set to triple by the end of the century to over four billion people, one thing is clear: acute energy poverty will remain a huge challenge."
Flaws in current strategies to combat Climate change?
"Thus far the world has focused on just two fixes: replacing hydrocarbons with renewables in the power sector, and on electrifying light duty road passenger transport via electric vehicles. The extremely serious flaw in this approach is its exceptionally narrow focus, as electricity accounts for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and light duty passenger vehicles only about eight percent. In other words, the focus on only about one-third of total GHG emissions. And that is why I strongly believe we need to think differently. In my view, we could consider four key strategies that have the potential to make the global effort much more effective.
First, we must go beyond electric power generation and light duty passenger transport, broadening our focus and paying attention to all the other economic sectors that jointly account for about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Second, most clean R&D and technology funding by governments is currently focused on emerging energy sources, and this must be extended to the existing energy sources that will be with us for a long time to come.
Third, we should concentrate on moving toward a Circular Economy: an economic system focused on the elimination of waste and the sustainable use of resources, which could be characterized by the three Rs of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling. This compares to a traditional Linear Economy in which raw materials are mined or extracted, processed, and turned into products, but then are simply thrown away after one use rather than being remade, repaired or recycled. Carbon and a wide variety of other materials and resources can be similarly transformed into circular systems. In other words, we need to “close the loop” to the maximum extent possible.
And fourth, let us take advantage of the greenhouse-gas reduction synergies across economic sectors offered by the circular economy, which will be lost if we work on various sectors in isolation, or focus only on a selected few. In my view, this more comprehensive approach is vital, because looking at the global energy mix for the foreseeable future, I see both new energy sources and existing sources contributing in parallel. Without a doubt, oil and gas will be here for many decades to come. But there can also be no question that climate change is among the most significant of challenges."
The impact of rapid population growth on energy demand?
"By ensuring access to ample energy, our industry continues to power economies and lift billions out of poverty. Despite great progress, roughly one billion people still lack access to reliable electricity. Close to three billion people still rely primarily on unclean biomass, wood, and coal for their cooking needs, with more deaths each year from indoor pollution than HIV-Aids and Malaria combined. And with Africa’s population alone set to triple by the end of the century to over four billion people, one thing is clear: acute energy poverty will remain a huge challenge. It would be inhumane to ignore the issue, wish it away, or dismiss our industry’s central role in tackling it. We are a global industry at the cutting-edge of science, technology, engineering, and logistics, supported by a complex, global supply chain."
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