In his address, “Fulfilling a Higher Purpose: Four Tenets for a New “Golden Age” of Petroleum”, Al-Falih said four sweeping new realities have resulted in a confluence of factors, positioning the industry for a renaissance.
With the global discourse on energy being reset by deflating “peak oil” concerns, the faltering pace of renewables and alternatives, economic uncertainty and a shift in environmental policy, Al-Falih said with the petroleum industry at the forefront of innovation, it can enable prosperity for billions of people around the world seeking higher living standards.
“But when I speak about a “renaissance” for our industry, I’m not talking about another decade-long boom where we spend more and make more,” Al-Falih told delegates at the congress, held every three years. “Rather, I am referring to an era where we fulfill our commitments to humanity while also meeting our obligations to the natural environment.”
In his address at the Qatar National Convention Centre, he described four key tenets, stamina, technology, people and responsibility, which could serve as guiding principles for the petroleum industry to come up with long term sustainable solutions.
“But while many of the conditions for a new “golden age” are in place, there is nothing inevitable about business success for our companies or greater prosperity for the stakeholders we serve,” Al-Falih said.
He called on the global petroleum community to develop solutions that will help the world population, adding the industry’s tenet of responsibility also include developing a new generation of young talent, and creating technologies to develop new products in making energy supplies cleaner and more efficient.
“The first of those tenets is what I refer to as our “staying power”: the adoption of a long-term approach to business, characterized by both realism and resilience. In other words, it is what an athlete might term “stamina,” Al-Falid told his audience.
Citing Saudi Aramco’s Manifa 900,000 barrel-per-day crude oil project as an example, he explained that staying the course on investments is imperative for long term success and not be undermined by short term vulnerabilities. With the typical project cycle being in the range of 10 to 15 years, in addition to the volatility in the oil markets, projects have become more complex, he added.
“I’ll be the first to acknowledge that adhering to that long-term view isn’t easy when the financial markets demand short-term results, and yet I believe it is critical if we are to bring this new golden age to fruition.”
Companies are changing the way they operate, he added, as rapid advances are being made in technology, while a demographic shift is occurring with experienced engineers and specialized personnel retiring and a higher number of younger employees entering the industry with greater expectations and aspirations to make a difference.
“There is both challenge and opportunity in this transformation: the challenge of transferring hard-won expertise to a new generation, and the opportunity of capitalizing on the different and exciting skill sets, expectations, and worldview of this rising generation of young men and women,” Al-Falih said.
To connect with younger employees, he added that Saudi Aramco has established a Young Leaders Advisory Board (Y-LAB) to hear their views, ideas and insights.
Al-Falih said that companies should go beyond annual environmental sustainability reports to broaden their engagement in social and economic areas of employment and entrepreneurship. In closing, Al-Falih said the industry can’t do it alone in achieving the four tenets, and called for “cross-boundary collaboration” with companies outside of the petroleum industry to meet long term challenges.