It has been a whirlwind year for the regional oil and gas industry. Watching the market intently from our perch, Oil & Gas Middle East has seen the slips, successes and surprises that have kept oil and gas companies on their toes this year. In our Power 50 list, we tally all of these up to rank those who have demonstrated leading behavior, leaving an impact on the regional market for the year, and for years to come.
1. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber
CEO, ADNOC Group
Since he took the helm of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in 2016, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber has spearheaded a slew of changes at the company towards its 2030 Strategy. No, it does not boast the highest production numbers in the region, but there is rarely a quiet day for ADNOC.
Al Jaber retains his position at the top of our Power List for the third consecutive year thanks to his tireless efforts to transform ADNOC, and, arguably, the wider oil and gas industry.
In the past year alone, ADNOC has spurred a series of high-profile deals with international partners, opened itself up to foreign investors, announced a new integrated gas strategy to push the UAE to gas self-sufficiency, with the considerable help of a hefty $132bn capex between 2019-2023.
ADNOC has also looked outside of its typical limits, pivoting to Asia as a growth opportunity and making a push to further grow its downstream portfolio.
2. Amin Nasser
CEO, Saudi Aramco
It’s not easy being big, and in the oil and gas industry, it doesn’t get much bigger than Saudi Aramco. It is impossible to discount Saudi Aramco’s central position in the global energy landscape. It is the world’s largest oil producer. But this year has shown that growth and strength in the market rely upon more than the amount of barrels pumped per day. It is all about strategy.
Saudi Aramco has shown its true ambitions this year, recently announcing plans to acquire the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s 70% stake in chemicals giant SABIC for $69.1bn. Aramco will also invest $150bn in its gas programme, and in November, signed a framework agreement with ADNOC, to explore collaborations in the natural gas and LNG value chain.
Saudi Aramco has kept a strong stance internationally, with several mega-deals signed this year. The Future Investment Initiative Forum saw 15 MoUs worth $34bn signed by the oil titan. The past year has also seen an enormous effort to localise business, encourage diversity & grow across the entire value chain.
3. Khalid Al-Falih
Chairman, Saudi Aramco
Minister of Energy, industry and Resources, KSA
It is unusual to feature two high-ranking members from the same company, but as the face of Saudi oil and gas production, and of Opec+, Khalid Al-Falih has earned his spot on this list.
As one of the most resonant voices among Opec+, Al-Falih has protected its decision to cut production by 1.2mn bpd (much to President Donald Trump’s dismay) and has repeatedly noted its purpose is to maintain balance between supply and demand in the global market. Al-Falih recently announced the discovery of vast quantities of gas in the Red Sea, relatively new territory for the oil and gas titan. On more familiar territory, Al-Falih has said that production in the Neutral Zone, shared with Kuwait, could restart this year.
Even as Saudi Arabia reins in its production to adhere to the agreement struck by Opec+, the nation’s ambitions lie far beyond its vast resources, and it is eyeing long term growth. Al-Falih was quoted as saying that “going forward, the world is going to be Saudi Aramco’s playground.” And what an interesting playground it would be.
4. Bob Dudley
CEO, British Petroleum
As BP’s leader, Bob Dudley has seen the firm through some tough times, from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico to the industry downturn. In 2018, it produced on average 3.7mn boed. The company plans to spend $1.8bn in Egypt in 2019 and $1bn in Abu Dhabi annually to expand its operations.
5. Claudio Descalzi
Eni’s large Mediterranean discoveries put it into the regional industry’s focus. But more recently, it has made headlines because of a frenzy of activity; within days, it signed exploration concession deals in Bahrain, the UAE and Oman. Under Descalzi’s leadership, Eni has expanded in the region, including its recent acquisition of a 20% equity interest in ADNOC Refining.
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