Saudi Arabia Review

Al Naimi ... taking stock

Al Naimi ... taking stock

‘Should’ develop human resources

The Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al Naimi says the challenge before the kingdom is its huge workforce

ALI Al Naimi, the Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, has paid a visit to several new economic ventures in the cities of Ras Al Khair and Jubail.

The visits provided him an opportunity to assess the progress of a kingdom-wide initiative to create job opportunities and economic diversification.

Al Naimi visited a new aluminium refinery at Ras Al Khair, as well as Saudi Aramco’s Wasit Gas Plant and the company’s two new petrochemical joint ventures – Sadara and Satorp – in Jubail. He was accompanied by Prince Faisal Bin Turki Bin Abdulaziz, adviser to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, and HE Abdulrahman Al Abdulkarim, the deputy minister for Companies Affairs, as well as Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A Al Falih and representatives of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu.

All of these projects share one thing in common, said Al Naimi: They are designed to expand the Saudi economy beyond the oil and gas business into new value-added industries in the kingdom that will spawn economic growth and create jobs for Saudi Arabian youth.

These mega-projects contribute to economic diversification, the achievement of high returns for shareholders and investors and the transfer and localisation of high-skills technical professions, Al Naimi said.

Later, at a luncheon held at Satorp, Al Naimi reflected on how the Saudi Arabian economy has developed and strengthened since the mid-1950s, when he joined Saudi Aramco. “All we had was a few wells producing oil,” Al Naimi said. “Then, we went from oil to gas and then petrochemicals and then mining. But now, the challenge is not the mineral wealth. We know how to develop mineral wealth. But if we succeed in developing man – and by that, I mean males and females – that would be the ultimate development of Saudi Arabia, and we should keep that in mind. Every effort that we can put on this would be very rewarding for every one of us. History will reward us or blame us for this.”

The first stop on Al Naimi’s tour was an aluminium smelter built by Ma’aden Mining Co in the town of Ras Al Khair. The smelter has a production capacity of 740,000 metric tonnes of aluminum annually and employs 4,000 people, 70 per cent of them Saudi nationals. Al Naimi then visited Saudi Aramco’s Wasit Gas Plant, which is expected to be one of the largest gas plants ever built by the company. When construction is completed later this year, Wasit will have the capacity to produce 2.5 billion square cubic feet per day of nonassociated gas from Saudi Aramco’s two offshore fields, Arabiyah and Hasbah.

Ras Al Khair ... frenetic development

The minister’s delegation visited the seamless pipe factory operated by Jesco in the industrial city of Jubail. This factory is in an industrial park, Plaschem Park, which is being developed in Jubail Industrial City by the Royal Commission, adjacent to the Sadara and Satorp refineries. This Seamless Pipes factory is at the leading edge of what the government hopes will be an economic boom for Saudi-owned businesses that supply parts and services to the Saudi energy and petrochemicals industry, and in turn, create thousands of highly skilled jobs for Saudi citizens.

The delegation then visited Sadara Chemical Co, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical Co., which, when completed, will be the largest petrochemical complex built in a single phase and represent the largest foreign investment in the kingdom. The complex is expected to produce more than 3 million metric tonnes of high value chemical products, generating $10 billion in revenue per year.

It is these chemical products that Saudi Aramco believes will create whole new industries within the kingdom, and create new jobs for Saudi citizens, said Al Falih. By adding value to the hydrocarbons that Saudi Arabia produces here in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabian businesses will generate new revenue streams and create new highly skilled job opportunities for thousands of Saudi youths.

The impact of Sadara, as big as it is, is really in the Value Park, Al Falih said, referring to the industrial park to be developed next to Sadara in Jubail Industrial City. That is where we see economic growth, new businesses and new high-paying jobs for Saudi youths.

In its final stop, the delegation visited Satorp refining and petrochemical company, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Total oil company. The Satorp refinery in Jubail is designed to refine 400,000 barrels of Arabian Heavy crude oil per day into a number of fuels, including diesel, jet fuel, gasoline and LPG, as well as petrochemical products such as aromatic benzene and propylene.

Satorp’s twin production trains are the first in the Middle East to produce high purity paraxylene, which is used in making bottles. Satorp also operates the first coker in the region.

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