SPEECH: Remarks by Amin Nasser at the Prosperity7 office inauguration in Palo Alto, California
Aramco president and CEO invokes the memory of Max Steineke in opening of the company’s venture capital fund office.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
It is a pleasure to join you here. Because when it comes to innovation, and re-defining the way people live and work, the world still thinks of Silicon Valley first.
It is also good to be here in a week when we are reminded of the historic connections between Aramco and California.
Next Monday (May 29), it will be 90 years since Standard Oil of California signed an agreement that enabled oil exploration in Saudi Arabia.
This was the “seed” for the company that would eventually become Aramco. In fact, for many years, Aramco’s corporate headquarters was in San Francisco.
Then there are the human connections, with Standard Oil’s explorers and engineers working closely with Saudi desert guides to find oil.
And it was the intervention of a Stanford graduate, Max Steineke, that proved critical.
He was Aramco’s first chief geologist, and an inspiration to his team. However, it was now 1938, and they had still not found oil in commercial quantities.
He knew results were needed fast or they would be heading home. In fact, a telegram was on its way from California telling them to stop.
But he believed in the mission, told his crew to drill deeper, and the first commercially viable oil started to flow at Dammam Well No. 7 in March that year, before the telegram arrived.
Many years later, the site would be renamed “Prosperity Well”.
And this is the inspiration behind our VC fund, Prosperity7 Ventures, which is inaugurating its new office in Palo Alto this week.
But all that lay ahead. Back in 1933, the concession agreement was a big leap of faith by both sides.
In VC language, we would call it a moonshot investment, that became a unicorn!
And I believe that much of our growth and success over 90 years is down to never losing that pioneering, can-do, start-up spirit, with Americans and Saudis coming together as one team.
It is how we approach today’s defining challenge of balancing our crucial role in global energy security with our equally crucial role in the global energy transition, while achieving our net-zero ambition.
And you can bet that success will only be possible with human innovation and game-changing start-up technologies, powered by venture capital.
That is why we now have $3.5 billion in VC programs. And Aramco Ventures reached 100 investments earlier this month.
They are in the top 10 of Climate 50’s annual ranking of the most impactful climate tech investors globally. But now we are taking our efforts to the next level.
For example, included in that $3.5 billion is Prosperity7 Ventures.
This $1 billion fund targets investments in disruptive technologies, across various sectors and industries beyond energy.
Which is why we are here.
We want to connect visionaries in innovation and technology with the finance and start-ups that Silicon Valley is famous for.
We seek your help in further reducing our emissions and developing new, lower carbon energy, while meeting the world’s energy needs.
And we welcome the positive disruption that even more impactful partnerships could bring to the energy transition, shifting the focus from the theoretical “what” to the pragmatic “how” and the critical “how fast.”
In short, we want to help exceptional entrepreneurs build transformative companies that address some of the toughest problems.
And we are backing it with all the strength and scale of Aramco so that big ideas can become big realities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the energy transition gold rush is on!
The winners will be those who can truly deliver energy security, environmental sustainability, and a transition that works for the many, not the few.
And that will increasingly depend on the power of venture capital.
So we invite you to help us find and fund new unicorns.
Just as California did for us 90 years ago.