‘The worst is behind us’: Aramco CEO

Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser, this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award. (Supplied)
Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser, this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 December 2020

‘The worst is behind us’: Aramco CEO

Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser, this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award. (Supplied)
  • Amin Nasser points to oil industry recovery after accepting prestigious chemists’ award

RIYADH: The oil industry is recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and “the worst is behind us,” Saudi Aramco’s President and CEO, Amin Nasser, told an award ceremony in Riyadh on Thursday.

“April was by far the worst month for our industry when oil demand fell. Such a massive drop was never seen at any time in the industry. But I believe the worst is behind us. At this moment there is a recovery taking place,” Nasser said after he was announced as this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award.

The award, which recognizes Nasser’s work in the petrochemical industry, was presented at a virtual event on Dec. 3 and included a discussion with the official about Aramco’s strategy, outlook and key industry trends.

Accepting the award, Nasser praised Saudi Aramco’s employees, saying he wanted to share the prestige with them.

“I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the thousands of men and women of Saudi Aramco who are showing great determination and resilience in a year that has been unlike any in our lifetime. This is definitely their award, too,” he said.

During the fireside chat, Nasser spoke about projects currently underway at Saudi Aramco.

“Despite COVID-19 and all its challenges, our work is going on at Aramco. We have continued to pursue our long-term strategy to be a bigger player in chemicals, to projects here in the Kingdom and around the world. In fact, the progress we have made is just the beginning of a major transformation positioning Aramco for the future,” he said.

In a statement ahead of the ceremony, Joseph Chang, global editor of the ICIS Chemical Business publication, praised Nasser for his achievements.

“Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser has made huge advances in petrochemicals with the $69 billion acquisition of SABIC, the construction of mega-projects worldwide and the development of crude oil-to-chemicals technology. The level of project activity for Aramco is unprecedented for any company. Its global ambitions and investments in petrochemicals will create waves in the industry for years to come,” he said.

The Chemists’ Club, a private organization in New York, offers memberships to research and industrial chemists working in all areas.

The Kavaler prize, presented for the first time to a recipient outside Europe and North America, was awarded for “outstanding achievement.”

Profitability, innovation, acquisition activity, and commitment to environmental and social issues are taken into consideration when choosing the recipient.

Voting is carried out by the recipient’s peers in the ICIS Top 40 Power Players, a global ranking of industry leaders making the greatest positive impact published in ICIS Chemical Business magazine.

Previous winners include LyondellBasell CEO Bob Patel, BASF CEO Kurt Bock, Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe, former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, former LyondellBasell CEO Jim Gallogly, and former PPG CEO Charles Bunch.


Global shares, oil prices falter as US stimulus buzz fades

Global shares, oil prices falter as US stimulus buzz fades
Updated 16 January 2021

Global shares, oil prices falter as US stimulus buzz fades

Global shares, oil prices falter as US stimulus buzz fades

LONDON: Global shares stumbled on Friday as hopes of a fiscal boost from a $1.9 trillion US stimulus plan were smothered by the prospect of stricter lockdowns in France and Germany and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in China.
European stocks followed Asian markets lower, with the pan-European STOXX 600 down 0.8 percent and London’s FTSE 100 0.8 percent weaker, with the latter clobbered by data showing Britain’s economy shrank in November for the first time since the initial COVID-19 lockdown last spring.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was 0.3 percent lower. S&P 500 e-mini futures shed 0.3 percent to 3,779.
Oil prices, which had risen on a weak dollar and strong Chinese import data, dropped as COVID-19 concerns in China hit sentiment.
Brent was down $1.33, or 2.3 percent, after gaining 0.6 percent on Thursday. US West Texas Intermediate crude was down $1.17, or 2.1 percent at $52.44 a barrel, having risen more than 1 percent the previous session.
Brent and US crude were heading for their first weekly declines in three weeks.
Spot gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,847.00 per ounce.
While oil producers are facing unparalleled challenges balancing supply and demand equations with calculus involving vaccine rollouts versus lockdowns, financial contracts have been boosted by strong equities and a weaker dollar, which makes crude cheaper, along with strong Chinese demand.
“The recent resurgence in coronavirus infections, appearance of new variants, delayed vaccine rollouts and renewed lockdown measures in most major OECD economies has clouded the economic and demand recovery,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
“Simply put, near-term demand expectations aren’t too promising.”
Earlier on Friday, an Asian regional share index had edged near record highs after US President-elect Joe Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to jump-start the world’s largest economy and accelerate its response to the coronavirus.
In prime time remarks on Thursday, Biden outlined a proposal that includes $415 billion aimed at the COVID-19 response, some $1 trillion in direct relief to households, and roughly $440 billion for small businesses and communities hard hit by the pandemic.
But that initial boost later faded as risk appetite waned, lifting bond prices and the dollar, and hitting equities.
“People are saying it’s a big number but markets are almost acting like its a disappointment,” said James Athey, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments.
“I think maybe the market was pricing an additional $2,000 cheque going to the US population, but what’s being proposed is a top-up of $1,400 to take the total to $2,000 because $600 has already been agreed.”
Investors also digested the prospect of rising taxes to pay for the plan.
“The concern is what it’s going to mean from a tax stand point,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.
“Spending is easy to do but the question is how are you going to pay for it? Markets often ignore politics but they don’t often ignore taxes.”
Biden’s comments came after US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell struck a dovish tone in comments at a virtual symposium with Princeton University.
Powell said the US central bank is not raising interest rates anytime soon and rejected suggestions the Fed might start reducing its bond purchases in the near term.
Investor concerns over the prospects for a global economic recovery were raised after France strengthened its border controls and brought forward its night curfew by two hours to 6 p.m. for at least two weeks to try to slow the spread of infections.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for “very fast action” to counter the spread of variants of the coronavirus.
Chinese blue chips eased 0.2 percent, snapping a four-week winning streak, after the country on Friday reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months.
US earnings season kicked into full swing with results from JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.
JPMorgan Chase reported a much better-than-expected 42 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit on Friday, driven by the release of some of the reserves it had built up against coronavirus-driven loan losses.
Investors will be looking to see if banks are starting to take down credit reserves, resume buybacks, and provide guidance that shows the economy is improving, said Thomas Hayes, chairman of Great Hill Capital in New York.
In the currency market, the US dollar rose.
The dollar index was at 90.407 versus a basket of currencies, up 0.2 percent on the day.
It was on track for a weekly gain of around 0.4 percent, making this its strongest week since November.
Against the stronger dollar, the euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.21325.
US yields stepped back as risk appetite waned. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes yielded 1.1039 percent, down from a US close of 1.129 percent on Thursday, while the 30-year yield dipped to 1.8451 percent from 1.874 percent.
In Europe, Italy’s bond market was poised to end the week calmer, as 10-year bond yields were down 2 basis points at 0.59 percent.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resisted calls to resign on Thursday after a junior coalition party led by former premier Matteo Renzi pulled out of the government on Wednesday and stripped it of its majority.