Saudi Arabian Oil Company
Saudi Aramco operates the world's largest single hydrocarbon network, the Master Gas System. Its 2013 crude oil production total was 3.4 billion barrels (540 million cubic metres), and it manages over one hundred oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, including 288.4 trillion standard cubic feet (scf)
of natural gas
reserves. Saudi Aramco operates the Ghawar Field
, the world's largest onshore oil field, and the Safaniya Field
, the world's largest offshore oil field.
On 11 December 2019, the company's shares commenced trading on the Tadawul stock exchange
. The shares rose to 35.2 Saudi riyals
, giving it a market capitalisation of about US$
and surpassed the US$2 trillion mark on the second day of trading.
In the 2020 Forbes Global 2000
, Saudi Aramco was ranked as the 5th-largest public company in the world.
In March 2021, Saudi Aramco announced that earnings in 2020 fell by nearly 45% compared with 2019, as lockdowns around the world following the COVID-19 pandemic
curbed demand for oil.
Through its subsidiary company, the Bahrain Petroleum Co.
(BAPCO), SoCal struck oil in Bahrain
in May 1932. This event heightened interest in the oil prospects of the Arabian mainland. On 29 May 1933, the Saudi Arabian government granted a concession to SoCal in preference to a rival bid from the Iraq Petroleum Co.
The concession allowed SoCal to explore for oil in Saudi Arabia. SoCal assigned this concession to a wholly owned subsidiary
, California-Arabian Standard Oil (CASOC). In 1936, with the company having had no success at locating oil, the Texas Company
(Texaco) purchased a 50% stake of the concession.
After four years of fruitless exploration, the first success came with the seventh drill site in Dhahran
in 1938, a well referred to as Dammam No. 7
This well immediately produced over 1,500 barrels per day (240 m3
/d), giving the company confidence to continue. On 31 January 1944, the company name was changed from California-Arabian Standard Oil Co. to Arabian American Oil Co. (or Aramco
In 1948, Standard Oil of New Jersey
(later known as Exxon) purchased 30% and Socony Vacuum
(later Mobil) purchased 10% of the company, with SoCal and Texaco retaining 30% each.
The newcomers were also shareholders in the Iraq Petroleum Co. and had to get the restrictions of the Red Line Agreement
lifted in order to be free to enter into this arrangement.
Aramco compound in Saudi Arabia, 1954
A similar process had taken place with American oil companies in Venezuela
a few years earlier. The American government granted US Aramco member companies a tax break
known as the golden gimmick
equivalent to the profits given to King Abdulaziz. In the wake of the new arrangement, the company's headquarters were moved from New York to Dhahran.
In 1951, the company discovered the Safaniya Oil Field
, the world's largest offshore field. In 1957, the discovery of smaller connected oil fields confirmed the Ghawar Field
as the world's largest onshore field.
In 1975, the Saudi Arabia second five-year economic plan included a Master Gas Plan. Natural gas would be used to generate power, rather than flaring the gas
. The plan counted on using the associated gas
, but by 1985, Aramco was able to include a billion standard cubic foot
per day (Bscfd) of non-associated gas. This non-associated gas was produced from the Kuff Formation
, which is a limestone
layer 650 metres (2,130 ft) below the oil producing Arab Zone. In 1994, Aramco discovered more non-associated gas in the deeper Jawf sandstone
formation, and built plants in Hawiyah and Haradh
to process it. This increased the capacity of the Master Gas System to 9.4 billion scfd.:98–100,104,129–130,229
Yom Kippur War
In 1973, following US support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War
, the Saudi Arabian government acquired a 25% "participation interest" in Aramco's assets. It increased its participation interest to 60% in 1974 and acquired the remaining 40% interest in 1976. Aramco continued to operate and manage the former Aramco assets, including its concessionary interest in certain Saudi Arab oil fields, on behalf of the Saudi Arab Government until 1988. In November 1988, a royal decree
created a new Saudi Arab company, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, to take control of the former Aramco assets (or Saudi Aramco)
and took the management and operations control of Saudi Arabia's oil and gas fields from Aramco and its partners. In 1989–90, high-quality oil and gas were discovered in three areas south of Riyadh: the Raghib area about 77 miles (124 km) southeast of the capital.
In Sept. 1990, after the start of the Gulf War
, Aramco was expected to replace much of the oil production removed from the global market due to the embargo of Iraq and occupied Kuwait. This amounted to producing an extra 4.8 million barrels per day (Mbpd) to keep the global oil market stable. In addition, Aramco was expected to provide all of the coalition
aviation and diesel needs. Aramco recommissioned 146 Harmaliyah, Khurais
, and Ghawar oil wells with associated gas oil separation plants
, and saltwater treatment pipeline, that had been mothballed
during the 1980s oil price collapse. Daily production increased from 5.4 Mbpd in July to 8.5 Mbpd in December 1990 after a three-month de-mothball effort.:125,135,148–149,155–156
Starting in 1990, Aramco embarked on an expansion of crude oil sales in the Asian market. Agreements with South Korea, the Philippines, and China resulted. By 2016, about 70% of Aramco's crude oil sales were to Asia.:168,176,184–185
In May 2001, Saudi Arabia announced the Gas Initiative, which proposed forming three joint ventures with eight IOCs
for gas exploration on pure upstream acreage. Core Venture 1 included south Ghawar and north Rub' Al-Khali
, Core Venture 2 included the Red Sea
, while Core Venture 3 involved Shaybah
and Kidan. In 2003, Royal Dutch Shell
and Total S.A.
formed a partnership with Saudi Aramco in Core Venture 3. In 2004, Core Venture 1 became three separate joint ventures with Saudi Aramco holding 20%, one with Lukoil
, a second with Sinopec
, and a third with Repsol
By 2004, Aramco was producing 8.6 million barrels per day (mbpd) out of a potential 10 mbpd. In 2005, Aramco launched a five-year plan to spend US$50 billion to increase their daily capacity to 12.5 mbpd by increasing production and refining capacity and doubling the number of drilling rigs.:241–242
In 2005, Saudi Aramco was the world's largest company with an estimated market value of US$781 billion.
In June 2008, in response to crude oil prices exceeding US$130 a barrel, Aramco announced it would increase production to 9.7 million barrels per day (mbpd). Then as prices plummeted, Aramco stated in January 2009, that it would reduce production to 7.7 mbpd.:265–267
In 2011, Saudi Aramco started production from the Karan Gas Field, with an output of more than 400 million scf per day.
The Wall Street Journal
reported in September 2018, Aramco was considering a US$1 billion venture-capital fund to invest in international technology firms.
In June 2019, a report by Financial Times
claimed that Aramco had been bearing the ministry-related expenses; boosting the finance ministry budget allocation. It also included Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih
’s company-related and diplomatic trips, as well as his stays in luxurious hotels. However, an ally mentioned that Falih’s policies have delivered additional oil revenues that far exceeded his expenses.
In September 2019, Saudi Arabia appointed Yasir Al-Rumayyan
as the Chairman of Aramco. Al-Rumayyan became head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund by replacing Khalid Al-Falih
, who was holding the position since 2015.
In 2020, Saudi Aramco acquired a 70% share in SABIC
, a chemicals manufacturing company.
In June 2020, Saudi Aramco laid off nearly 500 of its more than 70,000 employees, while the global energy firms were reducing their workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic
. However, majority of the workers who lost their job at Aramco were foreigners.
On 9 August 2020, Saudi Aramco reported a 50% fall in net income for the first half of its financial year, as demand for oil and prices continued to fall due to the coronavirus crisis
. This came after Saudi Aramco lost its title as the world’s largest listed company by market capitalization to Apple
, on 31 July 2020.
In November 3, 2020, Saudi Aramco reported a 44.6% drop in third-quarter net profit as the coronavirus crisis continued to choke demand and weigh on crude prices.
2012 cyber attack
Aramco computers were attacked by a virus on 15 August 2012.
The following day Aramco announced that none of the infected computers were part of the network directly tied to oil production, and that the company would soon resume full operations.
Hackers claimed responsibility for the spread of the computer virus.
The virus hit companies within the oil and energy sectors.
A group named "Cutting Sword of Justice" claimed responsibility for an attack on 30,000 Saudi Aramco workstations, causing the company to spend months restoring their services.
The group later indicated that the Shamoon
virus had been used in the attack.
Due to this attack, the main site of Aramco went down and a message came to the home page apologizing to customers.
Computer security specialists said that "The attack, known as Shamoon, is said to have hit "at least one organization" in the sector. Shamoon is capable of wiping files and rendering several computers on a network unusable." Richard Clarke
suggests the attack was part of Iran's retaliation for the US involvement in Stuxnet
Security researcher Chris Kubecka
, who helped the company establish security after the attack, detailed the level of sophistication in her Black Hat USA 2015 presentation
and episode 30 of Darknet Diaries.
2019 drone attack
On 14 September 2019, there was a drone attack on two Saudi Aramco plants:
oil processing facility and Khurais oil field
. Houthi rebels
claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack cut 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of Saudi crude output, over 5% of the world's supply.
There were discussions by Saudi Arabian officials on postponing Aramco's IPO, because the attacks "sidelined more than half of the kingdom's output" of oil.
2019 Initial public offering (IPO)
Since around 2018, Saudi Arabia had been considering to put a portion of Saudi Aramco's ownership, up to 5%, onto public trading via a staged initial public offering
(IPO), as to reduce the cost to the government of running the company. While the IPO had been vetted by major banks, the IPO was delayed over concerns of Aramco's corporate structure through 2018 into 2019.
The September 2019 drone attacks on Aramco's facilities also delayed the onset of the IPO.
On 9 April 2019, Aramco issued bonds collectively valued at US$12 billion.
Its first international bond issue received more than US$100 billion in orders from foreign investors, which breaks all records for a bond issue by an emerging market entity.
On 9 November 2019, Saudi Aramco released a 600-page prospectus giving details of the IPO. According to the specifications provided, up to 0.5% of the shares were locked for individual retail investors.
On 4 December 2019, Saudi Aramco priced its offering at 32 Saudi riyals
(approximately US$8.53 at the time) per share. The company generated subscriptions of total amount equals US$119 billion representing 456% of total offer shares. It raised US$25.6 billion in its IPO, making it the world's largest IPO for several months, succeeding that of the Alibaba Group
In October 2020, China's Ant Group
raised US$34.5 billion during its IPO, surpassing Saudi Aramco for the world's largest IPO in history.
The company commenced trading on Tadawul on 11 December 2019, with shares rising 10% to 35.2 riyals, giving the company a market capitalisation of about U$1.88 trillion, and making Saudi Aramco the world's largest listed company.
Global Medium Term Note Programme
Saudi Aramco announced hiring international banks to accomplish a multi-tranche US dollar-denominated bond issuance on 16 November 2020. The announcement was made by the oil company on the lookout for cash following low oil prices and the impact of the coronavirus
crisis. According to a bourse filing made by Aramco, the like of Goldman Sachs
, Morgan Stanley
, and NCB Capital were hired by the company for organizing investor calls prior to the planned transaction. The document published by one of the other banks said to be involved in the deal showed that the deal included BNP Paribas, MUFG, BofA Securities, SMBC Nikko, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Societe Generale, and BOC International. Aramco has been under debt and is required to pay cash worth US$37.5 billion in dividends for the second half of 2020 and fund the US$69.1 billion of SABIC
’s 70% acquisition that it has been paying for via installments until 2028. In 2020, the oil company raised the loan to US$10 billion. The company has reported a fall in the net profit of its third-quarter for November 2020, due to increased crude prices and a drop in its demand following the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2021, Saudi Aramco offered a 50-year partnership with China in the plan to develop new technologies to combat the climate change.
More recently, they signed a deal with a consortium led by EIG.
Headquarters of Aramco Services Co. in Houston
Saudi Aramco is headquartered in Dhahran
, but its operations span the globe and include exploration, production, refining, chemicals, distribution and marketing. All these activities of the company are monitored by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
together with the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals.
However, the ministry has much more responsibility in this regard than the council.
Board of directors
- Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan (chairman), member of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (Saudi Arabia)
- Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance
- Mohammed Al-Jadaan, current Minister of Finance
- Mohammad M. Al-Tuwaijri, former Minister of Economy and Planning
- Nabil Al-Amoudi, former Minister of Transport
- Mark Moody-Stuart, former chairman of Anglo American, HSBC, and the Foundation for the United Nations Global Compact
- Andrew N. Liveris, former chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical
- Lynn Elsenhans, former chairwoman and CEO of Sunoco
- Peter Cella, former president and CEO of Chevron Philips Chemical
- Mark Weinberger, former chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young
- Amin H. Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco
Refining and chemicals
While the company did not originally plan on refining oil, the Saudi government wished to have only one company dealing with oil production. Therefore, on 1 July 1993, the government issued a royal decree merging Saudi Aramco with Samarec, the country's oil refining company. The following year, a Saudi Aramco subsidiary acquired a 40% equity interest in Petron Corporation
, the largest crude oil refiner and marketer in the Philippines. Since then, Saudi Aramco has taken on the responsibility of refining oil and distributing it in the country.
In 2008, Saudi Aramco sold its entire stake to the Ashmore Group, a London-listed investment group. Ashmore acquired an additional 11% when it made a required tender offer to other shareholders. By July 2008, Ashmore, through its SEA Refinery Holdings B.V., had a 50.57% of Petron's stock. Ashmore's payment was made in December 2008. In December 2008, Ashmore acquired PNOC's 40% stake. In the same month, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) said it was in the final stages of negotiations with the Ashmore Group to buy up to 50.1% of Petron. In 2010, SMC acquired majority control of Petron Corporation.
Saudi Aramco's refining capacity is 5.4 million barrels per day (860,000 m3
/d) (International joint and equity ventures: 2,500 Mbbl/d (400,000,000 m3
/d), domestic joint ventures: 1,900 mpbd, and wholly owned domestic operations: 1,000 Mbbl/d (160,000,000 m3
Saudi Aramco's downstream operations are shifting emphasis to integrate refineries with petrochemical facilities. Their first venture into it is with Petro Rabigh
, which is a joint venture with Sumitomo Chemical Co. that began in 2005 on the coast of the Red Sea
In order to become a global leader in chemicals, Aramco will acquire 50% of Royal Dutch Shell
's stake in their refiner in Saudi Arabia for US$631 million.
List of refineries
List of domestic refineries:
- Jazan Refinery and terminal projects (JRTP) (400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d)), Jazan construction is ongoing.
- Jeddah Refinery (78,000 bbl/d (12,400 m3/d)) Jeddah converted to product storage terminal in November 2017.
- Ras Tanura Refinery (550,000 bbl/d (87,000 m3/d)) (includes a Crude Distillation Unit, a Gas Condensate Unit, a hydrocracker, and catalytic reforming)
- Riyadh Refinery (126,000 bbl/d (20,000 m3/d))
- Yanbu Refinery (245,000 bbl/d (39,000 m3/d))
List of domestic refining ventures:
- The Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Co. Ltd. (SAMREF), Yanbu (400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d))
- The Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery Co. (SASREF), Jubail (300,000 bbl/d (48,000 m3/d))
- Petro Rabigh, Rabigh (400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d))
- Saudi Aramco Base Oil Co. (Luberef)
- Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co. (SATORP), Jubail (400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d))
- Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refinery (YASREF), Yanbu (400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d))
List of international refining ventures:
- Fujian Refining and Petrochemical Co. (FRPC), People's Republic of China
- Sinopec SenMei (Fujian) Petroleum Co. Ltd. (SSPC), People's Republic of China
- Motiva Enterprises LLC, United States, Port Arthur Texas 635,000 bbl/d (101,000 m3/d)
- Showa Shell, Japan 445,000 bbl/d (70,700 m3/d)
- S-Oil, Republic of Korea 669,000 bbl/d (106,400 m3/d)
- Saudi Refining Inc., United States
- Reliance Industries,(no investment) India
Saudi Aramco has employed several tankers to ship crude oil, refined oil, and natural gas to various countries. It used to have its own created subsidiary company, Vela International Marine
, which was merged with Bahri company, to handle shipping to North America, Europe, and Asia.
It is a stakeholder in the King Salman Global Maritime Industries Complex
, a shipyard that will be the largest in the world when complete.
Saudi Aramco expanded its presence worldwide to include the three major global energy markets of Asia, Europe, and North America.
In April 2019, Aramco has signed a deal to acquire a 13% stake in South Korean
oil refiner Hyundai Oilbank
for US$1.24 billion.
Moreover, on 11 April 2019, Aramco signed an agreement with Poland
’s leading oil refiner PKN Orlen
to supply it with Arabian Crude Oil.
Liquefied natural gas
Aramco is planning to be a major producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG
) in the world.
It sold its first cargo of LNG from Singapore to an Indian buyer.
The company is looking globally for potential joint ventures and partnerships to achieve its goal regarding LNG market.
The original concession agreement included Article 23; as Ali Al-Naimi
pointed out, this was a "key building block in the shaping of Saudi society for decades to come." It reads, "The enterprise under this contract shall be directed and supervised by Americans who shall employ Saudi nationals as far as practicable, and in so far as the company can find suitable Saudi employees it will not employ other nationals." The first company school was started in May 1940 in the Al-Khobar home of Hijji bin Jassim, company interpreter, translator and first instructor. Al-Naimi pointed out, "From the beginning, the development of Aramco was directly tied to the betterment of Saudi Arabia." Another school was located in Dhahran in 1941, and was called the Jebel School. Boys hired into entry-level positions attended at 7 AM for four hours, followed by four hours of work in the afternoon. In 1950, Aramco built schools for 2,400 students. In 1959, Aramco sent the first group of Saudi students to college in the States. In 1970, Aramco started hiring its first high school graduates, and in 1979 started offering college scholarships. In 1965, Zafer H. Husseini was named the first Saudi manager and in 1974, Faisal Al-Bassam was named the first Saudi vice president. One of the early students was Al-Naimi, who was named the first Saudi president of Aramco in Nov. 1983. As Al-Naimi states, "The oil company committed itself to developing qualified Saudis to become fully educated and trained industry professionals." Al-Naimi acknowledged Thomas Barger
's championing of Saudization, "You, of all of Aramco's leaders, had the greatest vision when you supported the training effort of Saudi Arab employees during its early days. That visionary support and effort is bearing fruit now and many executive positions are filled by Saudis because of that effort." In 1943, 1,600 Saudis were employed at Aramco, but by 1987, nearly two-thirds of Aramco's 43,500 strong workforce were Saudis. In 1988, Al-Naimi became CEO
and Hisham Nazer
, the first Saudis to hold those positions. The "pinnacle of Saudization" occurred when the Shaybah
oil field came on line in July 1998, after a three-year effort by a team consisting of 90% Saudis. The Aramco of 2016 still maintained an expatriate
workforce of about 15%, so Aramco can, in the words of Al-Naimi, "be sure it is getting access to the latest innovations and technical expertise."
Saudi Aramco has emitted 59.26 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent since it began operations, accounting for 4.38% of worldwide anthropogenic CO
In a letter sent to nine international banks reportedly hired by Aramco to assist it in arranging its US$2 trillion market debut, ten environmental groups warned about the listing causing a highly possible hindrance in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
and end human rights
abuses committed by the Saudi regime.
On 6 November 2019, Saudi Aramco joined the World Bank
's initiative to reduce gas flaring
to zero by 2030. The firm reported flaring of less than 1% of its total raw gas production in the first half of 2019.
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Last edited on 3 May 2021, at 19:43
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