Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), today addressed the Korean Chamber of Commerce and called for “an even higher level” of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Korea, “with strategic Korean investments in various areas of the Saudi Arabian economy, including energy-related fields.”
In a speech titled “Mutual Benefits, Shared Opportunities and Enduring Relationships,” Al-Falih said that Saudi Arabia’s admiration for the people of Korea has to do with economics but is, at the same time, very human. “For more than a generation,” he said, “we have seen first-hand your work ethic, your fortitude, your ingenuity, and the way in which Koreans meet their responsibilities and honor their commitments.”
Al-Falih noted that the Republic of Korea is now among Saudi Arabia’s four largest trading partners.
Just as Koreans have helped build Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in Korea’s growth “through our reliable supply of petroleum and through our equity stake in the S-Oil Corp., one of this country’s leading energy enterprises,” he said. “This year marks the 20th anniversary of that milestone investment — Saudi Aramco’s first in Asia.”
And now, S-Oil is now expanding the capacity of its Ulsan refinery to more than 650,000 barrels per day, “making it one of the world’s biggest and most sophisticated refineries,” he said.
Al-Falih also noted that Saudi Aramco’s Board of Directors is meeting for the first time in Korea. And in separate ceremonies, Saudi Aramco signed separate memoranda of understanding with Export Import Bank of Korea and Korea Trade Insurance Corp. to enhance opportunities for the two export credit agencies to participate in financing Saudi Aramco projects in the future.
In the works are new crude-oil production facilities; a 50 percent increase in global refining capacity; an expansion of the Master Gas System’s capacity to more than 15 billion standard cubic feet per day; a world-class petrochemical project in Jubail; a planned expansion of the Petro Rabigh joint venture; new industrial clusters housing other companies engaged in conversion, manufacturing and service activities; and a large number of support and infrastructure initiatives — including pipelines, bulk plants, system upgrades, environmental projects and large buildings.
“I would like to see Korean companies adopt a forward-looking strategy in which they invest in the ability to service and maintain materials and equipment in Saudi Arabia, rather than simply supporting us and the Middle East region from over the horizon here in Korea,” Al-Falih said.
“Just as this nation provided us with an ideal launching pad from which to grow our presence in north Asia, I believe the Kingdom can also be an excellent springboard for Korean firms wanting to grow their presence in the fast-growing Middle East region and beyond.”
Al-Falih called for taking “these relationships to an even higher level with strategic Korean investments in various areas of the Saudi Arabian economy, including energy-related fields.”
He added: “To me, such a development is simply the natural and necessary extension of a bilateral relationship which has already brought tremendous rewards to our companies, and greater prosperity to both our peoples.”