A few words from Al-Naimi can move global oil markets. The Saudi Oil minister commands the largest volume of spare oil producing capacity in the world. It’s become trite to say that, whoever chairs OPEC, it’s Saudi – via Al-Naimi – that calls the shots.
Al-Naimi holds years of experience in the industry, having worked his way up the ranks in Saudi Aramco from errand boy to CEO. There he improved the company’s efficiency and maintained the national oil company’s exclusive rights to the country’s upstream sector, even when low prices and the need to invest heavily in new Saudi engineering talent made the approaches of supermajors tempting.
Earlier this year, Al-Naimi announced plans to transform Saudi Arabia into downstream exporter. “Currently, we control 8% of the global petrochemical market,” he said at Saudi Downstream Forum in March 2012.
“By 2015, our market share will be 15%, allowing the Kingdom to be the third largest petrochemical exporter in the world,” he said earlier last year.
Currently, Saudi Arabia exports crude and raw products only to have it refined and re-imported into the Kingdom as finished products, but the proposed industry shift will allow the country to become more independent while providing jobs for its booming population.