Aramco CEO in call for ‘ultra clean energy’

“We must continuously remind all our stakeholders that we are a global industry at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and logistics, supported by a complex global supply chain,” Nasser said. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2019

Aramco CEO in call for ‘ultra clean energy’

  • Oil giant chief takes aim at climate change deniers during global oil industry gathering in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI: There is no limit to the oil industry’s potential if it can meet society’s demand for “ultra clean” energy, Amin Nasser, the president and chief executive of Saudi Aramco, told delegates at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi.

“The world faces an incredible climate challenge and we need a bold response to match. In my view, that means the entire industry must come together around a new mission beyond our gates of making oil and gas much cleaner across the full spectrum of end-use applications,” Nasser said.

His comments were seen against the background of Aramco’s long term strategy to be regarded not just as a pumper of crude oil, but as a diversified high technology energy group with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Nasser spoke recently of a “crisis of perception” in the oil industry.

“We must continuously remind all our stakeholders that we are a global industry at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and logistics, supported by a complex global supply chain,” Nasser said.

In an apparent swipe at climate-change deniers, he hit out at those who do not recognize the need for alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels to meet rising global energy demand. 

“Many governments are adopting policies that do not appear to consider all the complex aspects of global technology, the long term nature of our business, and the need for orderly transitions — policies that seem to assume there are quick and easy answers to the many challenges that alternatives face,” he said.

Nasser added that throughout Aramco’s history, it had a competitive edge in four key areas: Resource abundance, safe production, reliable supply and affordability. “But meeting society’s expectations requires a fifth. Quite simply, our products need to be much cleaner,” he said.

He added that the world was “at a turning point” in the search for cleaner forms of energy. “The good news is that we are not starting from scratch,” he said, highlighting Aramco’s halt to gas flaring, its low upstream carbon intensity, and low methane levels by industry standards.

He also underlined Aramco’s commitment to a range of technologies with transformative potential for the whole global oil industry, like advanced integrated engine fuel systems and carbon capture techniques.

“This is the latest turning point in our history, and we must, once again, lead the turn,” Nasser said.

 


Greek town bets on slow tourism to overcome virus

Updated 12 August 2020

Greek town bets on slow tourism to overcome virus

  • The pandemic is an opportunity to promote alternative tourism, fishing tourism

PREVEZA, Greece: Yannis Yovanos scans the waters of the Ambracian Gulf with his binoculars for dolphins shooting into the air before curving back down into the sea.

His early warnings prompt just a dozen tourists on the deck of Yovanos’ small boat to scramble for their smartphones, hoping to secure a snap of the aquatic mammals’ aerial acrobatics.

Officials in his home town of Preveza hope that it’s just this kind of small, family-run business that will help them overcome the coronavirus’ impact on travel — while sparing the region the environmental impact and economic distortions of the mass tourism more common on Crete or the Ionian islands.

“We don’t want to stay all day on a beach, we’re looking for a different experience,” said Dutch tourist Frederika Janssen.

“The pandemic is an opportunity to promote alternative tourism, fishing tourism,” as well as local life and culture “directly related to the natural resources that date from Antiquity,” said Constantin Koutsikopoulos, who heads the agency charged with managing the Ambracian Gulf.

Inside the gulf is a protected wetlands park, some 400 sq. km that is one of Europe’s Natura 2000 wildlife diversity regions.

One hundred and fifty dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles and 300 species of aquatic birds including the rare Dalmatian pelican live in the lagoons and reed beds of the gulf.

Nestled between green hills, the Ambracian Gulf is fed by rivers descending from the mountains of the Epirus region of northwestern Greece.

Yovanos’ hometown guards the little strait that connects the gulf with the Ionian Sea.

Dolphin watching trips like these mean “I am realizing my dream of living the life of a fisherman among our natural riches,” said the 49-year-old from behind a greying beard.

For Greece as a whole, a gamble on reopening its borders to tourists as early as June appears to have paid off for now.

New coronavirus cases have appeared only slowly since then, with fewer than 6,000 cases and just over 200 deaths nationwide from the pandemic.

Although Preveza has opted for a slower, more family-oriented approach to travel compared to better-known Greek destinations, it hasn’t renounced Mediterranean holiday clichés altogether.

With the sector suffering a big hit from the coronavirus epidemic, Preveza city officials launched a promotional campaign, securing the title of safest place for a European beach holiday from website European Best Destinations.

“Monolithi beach, the main beach of Preveza, is ... the longest one in Europe... you won’t have to struggle to get a nice spot, fix your beach umbrella and spend relaxing days in the sun,” it wrote.

And new infrastructure in the shape of a marina has helped draw sailors away from packed ports on the islands.

“Preveza is the right place compared to Corfu which is a very nice island but very crowded,” said Nick Ray, a British businessman, from the deck of his yacht that had put into the town’s port.

With its fishing and fish farming, the Ambracian Gulf is already the region’s economic motor.

Sustainable, environment-focused tourism should give the authorities even more reason to deal with the threats to the gulf such as pollution, poaching and illegal fishing.

There’s even something for ancient history buffs in the ruins of Nicopolis, founded by Caesar Augustus in honor of his naval victory nearby in 31 BC, where some Roman mosaics are still preserved.