Saudi downstream forum asks big questions
20 April 2011
How can Saudi Arabia's growing downstream industry create more work opportunities for Saudis?
Why is plastic piping sometimes imported when it could be manufactured locally using materials available in the Kingdom?
These and other questions sparked discussions between a panel of private Saudi industry leaders and audience members at the recent two-day Saudi Downstream Strategic Forum and Exhibition held at a Yanbu' hotel. The forum focused on the task of localizing the downstream industry and creating more work opportunities for Saudis.
The forum, which was thought to be the first in Saudi Arabia to focus on the downstream petrochemical and mineral industries, brought together industry and government leaders to discuss new technologies, industries and the investors' key role in the diversification of the Kingdom's economy.
During the panel discussion, one of many conducted at the forum, Abdulaziz M. Al-Judaimi, vice president, Chemicals, addressed the challenges that face the petrochemical industry and Saudi Aramco's strategy to address related issues.
Al-Judaimi said the company employs various methods to combat the challenges facing the industry. They include:
* Striving to diversify into products that offer new uses, which in turn emphasize value-addition to the product.
* Pursuing innovation with a focus on research and development of techniques.
* Improving human resources by focusing on skills, talent and attracting quality investment to the local industry base.
Abdulaziz M. Al-Judaimi receives a memento for his role in the Saudi Downstream Strategic Forum.
Al-Judaimi emphasized that Saudi Aramco puts this approach into practice, exemplified by the many joint ventures it has initiated in the Kingdom's downstream industry. Using the first and second stages of Petro Rabigh as an example of the company's developmental strategies in the industry, he stressed the need to provide work opportunities for Saudis.
This has been done by teaming up with key learning institutions such as King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and King Abdullah University for Science and Technology to design graduate programs that suit the needs of the downstream industry. It also gives the company access to a realm of research and development of technologies as well as up-and-coming talent throughout the Kingdom.
As part of Saudi Aramco's participation at the forum, Ibrahim Q. Al-Buainain, director of Joint Venture Development, described the partnership with Sumitomo Chemical as a clear example of diversifying petrochemical production as part of a the company's strategy. This is especially true considering that the Petro Rabigh project covers 240 hectares and is a fully self-sustaining complex with opportunities for foreign and local investments for basic and downstream production.
Meanwhile, other presentations given at the forum addressed the shift in policies designed to make the Kingdom not only competitive internationally but also to become the leading petrochemical producer in the world.
The forum also defined how the Kingdom has placed a firm commitment to developing international partnerships in the chemicals-derivatives and energy-intensive industries.
(Article by Khalid Al Towelli), Saudi Aramco Website