Industry strength continues to shine through
Aramco employees rally to meet the challenges of a global pandemic.
When the history of 2020 is written, it will stand out as a year that brought historic challenges for the global energy industry, but also a year that focused on the industry’s strengths and the value it provides to societies and t he global economy.
The lockdowns enacted during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented shock to the market, with oil demand collapsing to levels not seen in decades. Supply discipline managed to kick in with a slight delay to enable balanced markets as the world grappled with the shock.
The oil industry was critical in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, from hygiene products such as personal protective equipment and sanitizers, to fuel needed to reestablish supply chains. One major lesson we learned in 2020 is the need to have resilient energy systems that can underpin economic activity. Oil has a proven record, and with its myriad applications in the fight against pandemics, will remain a pillar of future energy systems.
The oil industry is in a state of constant evolution, and while events in 2020 tested the industry to unprecedented levels, it also has proven that the industry remains agile. Consider the journey of oil prices from April, when West Texas Intermediate hit negative, to the prices seen today. No one would have believed prices would score such a remarkable rebound.
The International Maritime Organization’s 2020 change in fuel specifications to reduce emissions, the demand destruction from COVID-19 lockdowns, and the abundance of supply, have between them been pegged as a game changer for the oil industry. Yet in 2020, a year which had them all, the oil industry is still chugging along. Of course, there have been some challenges to address along the way, but the overall framework of the industry is still intact, which speaks to the high resilience built into it.
The company’s response
The company’s resilience, thanks to its people’s motivation, skills, and ability to power through challenging times, enabled us to weather the extremes of 2020. Aramco was able to take immediate action and implement a series of measures to lessen the impact of the pandemic on its operations.
Utilizing digital information and communication channels allowed for limitless and prompt collaborations while abiding with social distancing measures. New technologies were also implemented to help combat the spread of the virus. This includes the use of smart helmets that use thermal imaging and are capable of examining up to 200 people per minute, identifying those with high temperatures in public spaces.
Thermal camera screening has also been implemented in more than 80 locations to measure the temperatures of people passing in large crowds without the need for an operator. In addition, the first phase of facial recognition technology has been deployed in 30 critical Aramco facilities around the Kingdom to ensure seamless accessibility with the least physical contact.
The company also introduced prevention programs, contingency plans, medical support services, and a companywide health awareness campaign in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare in efforts to provide the best possible care while ensuring the safety of its community.
During those times, Aramco was able to achieve its highest single-day crude oil production and record natural gas production, exceeding expectations and performing much better than anticipated. Consequently, accomplishing this production capacity came at the price of cutting company expenditures by sizable amounts to achieve capital and operational efficiencies.