At an industry event this year in Riyadh, the Saudi energy minister stopped around 9 p.m. in front of some 1,000 people and told them it was bedtime for Amin Nasser , the chief executive of state oil producer Saudi Aramco.
He wasn’t kidding.
Over a career spanning four decades, Nasser has earned a reputation for a style of dedication that means he will ensure he is ready for the challenges of the day ahead, without getting involved in the early hours. .
“It was a little embarrassing, you know, with the protocol and all that stuff, but it shows his work ethic and all the things he tends to do to stand out,” an industry source said, on condition of anonymity.
Aramco reported a 90% increase in second-quarter profits on Sunday, beating analysts’ expectations, boosted by higher oil prices, volumes sold and refining margins.
The company expects “oil demand to continue growing for the remainder of the decade, despite downward economic pressures on near-term global forecasts,” Nasser said in the earnings report. Aramco.
The Saudi oil giant rivals Apple Inc. as the world’s most valuable company. It temporarily took the top spot in May, helped by a rise in oil prices to 14-year highs after Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine raised concerns about energy supplies.
While juggling the day-to-day tasks of running a 70,000-employee company, Nasser also tackled issues surrounding how to meet global energy needs and became increasingly outspoken on the matter.
Like other oil majors, Aramco has championed the continued use of fossil fuels during the transition to cleaner energy.
Typically low-key and diplomatic, Nasser broke with his usual convention last December to say that a lack of spending on oil production could have serious social consequences and that investment should continue alongside the development of alternative sources.
Addressing the World Petroleum Congress in Houston, Texas, Nasser criticized the assumption that the world could switch to cleaner fuels “virtually overnight”.
“I understand that publicly admitting that oil and gas will play an essential and meaningful role during the transition and beyond will be difficult for some,” Nasser told delegates.
“But acknowledging this reality will be much easier than dealing with energy insecurity, runaway inflation and social unrest as prices become intolerably high and countries’ net zero commitments begin to crumble.”
For some, these comments in the American oil heartland of Texas proved prescient, as high energy prices and global inflation prompted world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, to knock on the door of the Saudi Arabia in search of additional barrels.
But as drought, record high temperatures and flooding have heightened global concern over any new fossil fuel development, many others say the dire need is to invest in renewables and other energy sources. national.
“In some circles he (Nasser) is seen as a climate threat, due to Aramco’s aggressive plans to increase production to 13 million barrels per day by 2027,” energy researcher Jim Krane said. at Rice University’s Baker Institute and author of the book Kingdoms of Energy.
“But in Saudi circles, he is seen as an innovator keen to diversify Aramco’s successful business model by pushing towards chemicals, hydrogen and the decarbonization of Aramco’s operations.”
Under Nasser, Aramco took over Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC as part of its downstream drive, launched an IPO as part of a record $29.4 billion listing in 2019, and released the first report of the company on its shows after decades of secrecy.
The local technocrat was an unknown quantity in the West. Unlike other Aramco CEOs, he is not a product of a top US university and instead rose through the corporate ranks after receiving a Saudi education.
Nasser began his career as a petroleum engineer. Prior to becoming CEO in 2015, he held positions including upstream vice president when he led the company’s largest capital investment program in its integrated oil and gas portfolio.
Nasser has become hugely popular at Aramco by promoting a decentralized culture and spending time with executives and workers, analysts said.
During the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, he makes it a point to visit an Aramco field or factory every night and break the fast with crews.
One of Nasser’s biggest tests came in 2019 when drones and missiles struck Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil plants and halved Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production.
The United States and Saudi Arabia accused Iran of being responsible for the attack. Tehran has denied any involvement.
Nasser was at Aramco’s emergency unit within seven minutes, the industry source said. He didn’t micro-manage and gave managers on the pitch the freedom to make decisions during a high-pressure moment.
“Although 50% of Aramco’s operations were affected by the attack, within weeks Aramco was able to restore the bulk of its operations,” said Mazen Alsudairi, head of research at Al Rajhi Capital.
“This was possible because he continued the firm’s strong risk management policy which leaves no room for leniency.”