Saudi Aramco chief tells of ‘deeply personal’ pride in industry award

Saudi Aramco’s president and CEO, Amin Nasser, has been named energy executive of the year by a panel of international industry leaders. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 13 October 2020

Saudi Aramco chief tells of ‘deeply personal’ pride in industry award

  • Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman said the award was “fully merited” for Nasser’s career achievements

DUBAI: Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, received tributes from leaders of the global energy industry as he was named Energy Executive of the Year at a virtual ceremony that highlighted his decades of work at the Saudi oil giant.

Nasser said that he took pride in the award, which was “deeply personal” because of his family’s long association with Aramco.

“The pride comes from being part of a community that cares for the company, the country and the planet,” he said. 

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman said the award was “fully merited” for Nasser’s career achievements.

It was decided by global energy leaders and awarded by the Energy Intelligence consultancy.

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“It is richly deserved — not for a single year but a lifetime of achievement — and it is particularly humbling as it’s the view of his peers,” Prince Abdul Aziz said, highlighting the challenges that have faced the Aramco chief recently, including the attacks on the Kingdom’s oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais last year, the initial public offering of shares on the Tadawul, the $70 billion acquisition of SABIC and the response to the collapse of oil demand as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Any one of these would be career-defining for most companies and their CEOs, but Amin has had to deal with all these (and more besides) in rapid succession. He is always a calming voice in a sometimes crazy and polarized world. His strategic vision and outlook are matched by his technical competence — he knows what he is talking about. He means what he says and delivers what he promises,” the energy minister said.

“He is an inspiration, in particular, to the younger generation of men and women who look to him for guidance. And he is a very safe hand on the tiller — something that gives us all great comfort when navigating stormy waters,” the prince added.

Ben van Beurden, CEO of Shell and last year’s recipient of the award, said that Nasser had become the leader of the national oil companies in the global energy world, and had reached the “very pinnacle” of the oil industry.

Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the oil industry, praised Nasser’s “down to earth knowledge” of the oil production process alongside his “overall grasp of the global industry.”

Raja Sidawi, chairman of Energy Intelligence, said that the work of the team, led by Nasser, to restore production at the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities after the attack last September was “miraculous.”  

Nasser told the virtual ceremony that he found it “discouraging and distressing” when critics attacked the energy industry, especially over environmental matters.

“We should not be complacent about climate change. It is the biggest of our challenges. But the oil industry has done a lot for the global economy,” he said.

Nasser added that he believed the worst was over for the oil industry after the wild market fluctuations of the past year, and that he thought global demand would recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2022.


Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

Updated 20 October 2020

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

  • Both sides call on each other to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors

BRUSSELS: Britain and the EU said on Monday the door was still open for a deal on their post-Brexit relationship, calling on each other to compromise to find a way to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors.

With just over two months before Britain ends a status quo transition arrangement with the EU, talks on a trade deal are deadlocked, with neither wanting to move first to offer concessions.

A no-deal finale to Britain’s five-year Brexit drama would disrupt the operations of manufacturers, retailers, farmers and nearly every other sector — just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic repeated on Monday that the EU still wanted a trade deal but not “at any cost” after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday there was no point in continuing talks.

“It has to be a fair agreement for both sides — we are not going to sign an agreement at any cost,” Sefcovic told reporters after meeting Michael Gove, Britain’s point man on the existing divorce agreement, in London.

“The EU is ready to work until the last minute for a good agreement for both parties,” Sefcovic said.

Britain, increasingly frustrated by the EU’s refusal to start text-based talks, called on the bloc to make the first move, with its housing minister saying that Brussels only had to make “some relatively small but important changes.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called on the EU to “go that extra mile, to come closer to us on the points that remain for discussion.”

A spokesman for Johnson again ruled out prolonging any negotiation beyond the end of this year, when the transition period runs out, saying the EU “must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas with a genuine wish to respect UK sovereignty and independence.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had been due in London for talks with British counterpart David Frost this week. Instead, they will now speak by telephone on Monday to discuss the structure of future talks, Barnier’s spokesman said.

Negotiations broke down on Thursday, when the EU demanded Britain give ground. Issues still to be resolved include fair competition rules, including state aid and fisheries. EU diplomats and officials cast Johnson’s move as a frantic bid to secure concessions before a last-minute deal was done, and European leaders have asked Barnier to continue talks.

British officials have repeatedly said any deal has to honor Britain’s new status as a sovereign country and not try to tie it to EU rules and regulations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said compromises on both sides would be needed. French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain needed a deal more than the 27-nation EU.

Britain is launching a campaign this week urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure. In a statement accompanying the launch, Gove says: “Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.”

More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers on Sunday urged politicians to get back to the negotiating table next week and strike a deal.