SPEECH: Remarks by Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser at LEAP 2023 in Riyadh
“Aramco’s Path to Becoming the World’s Leading Digitalized Energy and Chemicals Company”
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim.
Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
I would like to thank the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, His Excellency Abdullah Alswaha, for inviting me to speak here today.
I congratulate him and all concerned for making LEAP one of the leading global tech conferences in only its second edition. You can see that just by looking at the range of subjects being addressed this week.
Everything from Fintech to HealthTech; from Future Energy to Future Cities; from metaverse to universe!
It is a powerful reminder of how technology is already transforming, and even disrupting, industries and economies around the world. It is an equally powerful indicator of the boundless opportunities for those who proactively seek, embrace, and apply technology to their businesses and long-term needs.
No wonder Vision 2030 places so much emphasis on innovation and advanced technology.
But these days cutting-edge quickly becomes blunt. For example, in 2016 our TeraPOWERS simulator successfully made the industry’s first trillion cell reservoir simulation run, using the Shaheen II super computer.
Just five years later, Aramco and the Saudi Telecom Company commissioned the Dammam-7 super computer. It is among the most powerful in the world with a processing capacity of 55.4 petaflops.
In other words, what got us here won’t get us there!
That is why regularly asking ourselves “what next?” has helped us to become a genuine technology company pushing the frontiers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Today, I would like to give you a flavor of “what next?” at Aramco in five key areas.
First, our ability to deploy Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies is central to our long-term strategies, growth, and 2050 net-zero ambition.
For example, our Artificial Intelligence Hub helps with AI-driven solutions such as flaring predictions to help reduce emissions, and pre-emptively identifies the risk of equipment and component failures in our facilities.
We are also leveraging the Internet of Things and Advanced Analytics to create “smart cities” within Aramco communities.
From smart street lights, to intelligent parking, smart power and water meters, and integrated transportation, the aim is to conserve water, save energy, and improve people’s quality of life.
We expect Dhahran to be our first smart city by year-end.
Second, we are increasingly transforming petabytes of real-time data into actionable, value adding insights so we can raise the bar on our business performance.
In turn, this helps us to deliver the energy the world needs more efficiently, safely, and sustainably.
Last week, we announced the launch of the Aramco Digital Company.
The purpose of Aramco Digital is to reinforce our leadership position in energy industry AI; to drive digital innovation across Saudi industry; and to enable the growth of the Saudi digital economy through a network of partnerships, projects, and joint ventures.
We are planning to invest $1.9 billion dollars over the next three years, making it the biggest Aramco investment in digital to date, while adding value to the Kingdom’s digital ecosystem.
Third, to show you the scale of our ambition with Aramco Digital, an important early project worth highlighting is the Aramco Global AI Corridor.
It will develop and commercialize complex AI solutions, train Saudi talent, support Saudi starts-ups, and together with global partners build a local AI ecosystem.
The Corridor has been activated, and the first phase is now live.
Fourth, there is our domestic venture capital arm, Wa’ed Ventures, which unlocks innovation in the Kingdom’s tech startup ecosystem.
I am pleased to announce that we have more than doubled the Wa’ed fund from 200 million dollars to half a billion dollars.
It is part of over 3.5 billion dollars in venture capital investments, which also includes a 1.5 billion dollar Sustainability Fund, a billion dollars for disruptive technologies, and 500 million dollars especially for digital and industrial investments.
Expanding the Wa’ed fund will enable it to bridge the financing gap for later stage startups, and help founders grow their companies regionally and globally.
It will also enable Wa’ed to localize frontier technologies related to Spacetech, sustainability, and quantum computing. And make the Kingdom a pivotal location for global tech ventures.
Fifth, our Digital Sustainability Flagship Program aims to streamline all current and future digital projects that relate to environmental sustainability under one framework. This will help to develop sustainability analytics solutions and support our 2050 net-zero ambition.
The Program has identified more than 200 digital use cases across the business so far. And I am proud that we are making the digital solutions we develop available to other companies in the region and around the world.
Because at the heart of all our efforts is the power of partnerships.
For Aramco, that includes our in-Kingdom and satellite R&D centers, and the billions of dollars in venture capital investments I just mentioned.
We also have wide ranging partnerships with technology developers, academic institutions, service companies, and others.
For example, we have just announced a new strategic partnership with Zoom, who have chosen to locate their first global node in the MENA region here in the Kingdom.
And with cybersecurity threats growing exponentially as digitalization expands, this also receives our special attention where again we have strong technology partnerships.
In fact, last October, we announced plans for a strategic collaboration with IBM to establish an Innovation Hub here in Riyadh.
It will leverage emerging technologies in hybrid cloud, AI, and quantum computing to address complex industry challenges such as cybersecurity, as well as sustainability, materials science, and others.
But for me accelerating talent development is the key to technology development and tech leadership.
Last week, I met the first cohort of Aramcons to graduate from our AI Corridor and Autonomous Systems Academy at Caltech.
These talented young people will help us utilize crucial technologies that will balance energy security, affordability, and environmental sustainability.
And I hope they will inspire many others to consider the contribution they can make inside our industry, that will enhance people’s daily lives, help their dreams come true, and protect our environment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for all of us, the future increasingly depends on creating and deploying high-end technology to leap into new worlds.
That is why we are prioritizing considerable investments at Aramco in the capabilities, disruptive technologies, and talent to make us the world’s leading digitalized energy and chemicals company.
And because partnerships will play such a crucial role, we are incredibly excited by LEAP and the impressive progress being made to establish a thriving tech sector here in Saudi Arabia.
We invite you to join us, and help us solve some of the most challenging issues facing our industry, Saudi Arabia, and the world.