The Kingdom has approved the restructuring of Saudi Aramco, a move that will see it separated from the Petroleum Ministry.
The Kingdom’s Supreme Economic Council approved the restructuring plan that had been proposed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy prime minister and minister of defense.
“These are all very positive moves as institutional separation can enhance efficiency and specialization,” commented John Sfakianakis, Middle East director at Ashmore Group.
“The changes brought to the hydrocarbon sector are part of wider changes in the way the economy is managed and institutions structured to reach the country’s sustainable growth goals,” he told Arab News. The restructuring comes soon after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman announced a major government reshuffle.
The king also appointed Khaled Al-Falih as chairman of Saudi Aramco and health minister Amin Al-Nasser, Saudi Aramco senior vice-president, has been named acting president and CEO of the oil giant to succeed Al-Falih. Al-Nasser has been serving as senior vice-president for upstream operations at Saudi Aramco since 2008, according to his biography posted on the company’s website. With a degree in petroleum engineering, he joined Saudi Aramco in 1982.
Sfakianakis added: “Appointing the former CEO of Saudi Aramco as its chairman is part an parcel of the oversight by someone who build his career with the national oil producer.”
Sfakianakis said Al-Falih is the right person to be overseeing the direction of Saudi Aramco and he’s the right choice to be appointed as health minister given his managerial expertise over the last years.
Other members of the new Aramco council include Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi, Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Economy Minister Adel Fakeih, Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al-Husayen and Aramco’s Al-Falih, according to a copy of a royal decree seen by Reuters.
Saudi Aramco is a world leader in crude exports. It is involved in hydrocarbons exploration, production, refining, distribution, shipping and marketing.
According to the company’s website, Aramco has stewardship of natural gas reserves of 288.4 trillion standard cubic feet (scf) and as of 2014 operates 212 oil rigs.
Saudi Aramco’s board of directors recently held its annual spring meeting in Seoul, South Korea.
An Aramco statement said the meeting’s “varied and rich agenda” also included a briefing from Ali Al-Naimi, minister of petroleum and mineral resources, on the recent dissolution of the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Mineral Affairs and the creation of the Supreme Council of the Saudi Aramco. As provided for in the company’s Articles of Incorporation, the council was constituted with 10 members, including five members of the board. The council is chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to the statement, Al-Falih suggested there were three key takeaways from the board meeting: the company is doing well; the company’s board is engaged and supportive; and the company is operating in “a volatile environment” economically and geopolitically and the world is looking to Saudi Aramco to show its true strength in the face of adversity.
“As an organization, we have to be operating to the gold standard, the benchmark,” said Al-Falih.
“People look at us as a best in class organization.”
On the organizational side, the board made six vice-president appointments including Abdulaziz A. Al-Abdulkarim, Ibraheem M. Assa’adan, Nabeel A. Al-Jama’, Nabeel A. Al-Mansour, Nasser A. Al-Nafisee, and Muhammad M. Al Saggaf.
Additionally, general management appointments included Salah M. Al-Hareky, Fuad A. Al-Hazmi, and John Stuart Lilly.
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