Powering Possibilities: Introducing Aramco Asia Korea

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Saudi Aramco is honored by your presence as we inaugurate a new company, Aramco Asia Korea. The office is in the heart of the business and governmental districts, near the Blue House and the headquarters of Korea’s leading enterprises. We are building a team of energetic and experienced professionals, representing the best of Saudi Aramco. Our new enterprise in Korea represents exciting developments.

Aramco Asia Korea reports directly to Saudi Aramco headquarters in Dhahran. It supports the full spectrum of Saudi Aramco’s interests in Korea. These include not only marketing, but also procurement and liaison with engineering and project management contractors, and interaction with Korea’s sophisticated research and development community.

We are thrilled to have a vital economic stake in a nation enjoying a great renaissance. In every corner of the world today, people associate Korea with quality, innovation, and competitive pricing. From automobiles to shipbuilding to complex engineering projects to high-tech electronics, "Made in Korea" is an emblem to be trusted.

For quite some time, Korean exporting success has been the envy of many other countries. Now the export triumphs also include pop culture. Saudi families increasingly are traveling to Korea as tourists, and young people in my country are in love with Korean movies and music. Even in the deepest deserts of Saudi Arabia, there is no escaping the popularity of "Gangnam Style."

My friends, innovation requires keen perception and discipline. These are deeply ingrained in the Korean mindset.

Let me mention a brilliant example of how that mindset has impressed us at Saudi Aramco.

Senior vice president, Downstream, Saudi Aramco

"For many years we have been the largest supplier of oil to power Korea's thriving economy, with several major refineries as our valued customers."

At the beginning of our long relationship with this country, the Korean government agency concerned with the oil business was called the Ministry of Energy & Resources. Over the past generation, this organization merged with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Energy. More recently, the combined organization was given a new name. Today it is called the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

This name, my friends, is utterly ingenious. It speaks a profound truth – with lessons for every company and every individual in the energy business.

Yes, as the Korean people understand perhaps better than anyone else on the planet, knowledge is energy. Knowledge is wealth. Knowledge – the product of careful perception and discipline – is innovation. Human creativity is both a natural resource and the wellspring of technological miracles.

For this reason, Korea is widely recognized as the greatest entrepreneurial society in modern history. And fortunately, the "Korean Miracle," which is also called "Miracle on the Han River," is not merely a happy fact of the recent past.

It is a booming force of global progress for today and for the future. That is why, ladies and gentlemen, Saudi Aramco is elevating and expanding its presence in Korea.

In a few moments you will hear from the new managing director of Aramco Asia Korea, Mr. Mohammed Al-Madi. He earned his bachelor’s in industrial management and his master of business administration from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.

He is conversant in three languages in addition to his native Arabic. He has performed superbly in roles including capital budgeting, international crude oil sales and marketing, and, most recently, as regional vice president of Saudi Petroleum Limited in Beijing. He clearly is a man committed to lifelong learning. Only last year, he completed the requirements for a PhD degree in petroleum engineering from China’s University of Petroleum in Beijing.

Mohammed and his team will build Aramco Asia Korea on the foundation of a long and deeply rewarding relationship between Saudi Aramco and our customers, suppliers, technology partners and other stakeholders in this country.

For many years we have been the largest supplier of oil to power Korea’s thriving economy, with several major refineries as our valued customers. We have a strong partnership in the refining business in Korea, as we recently marked the 20th anniversary of our S-Oil joint venture.

And over the years, too, Korea’s skilled and conscientious manpower and its superb, cutting-edge technologies have added tremendous value to many of Saudi Aramco’s largest and most critical projects. Saudi Arabia owes many of its most remarkable and enduring infrastructure projects to the genius and work ethic of Koreans.

That tradition of excellence continues and grows stronger with each passing year. Korean Foreign Direct Investment in Saudi Arabia grew from 45 to 99 projects between 2006 and 2010, with the value of direct investments increasing by more than 400 percent over the same period. Korea also is now Saudi Arabia’s fourth-largest trading partner. Korean engineering and construction firms now are engaged in contracts valued at more than $14 billion in major Saudi Aramco projects and joint ventures in Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, Saudi Aramco recently signed contracts with three Korean firms for engineering and construction of a new 400,000 barrel-per-day domestic refinery in Jazan in the southwest of Saudi Arabia. Korean financial institutions also are vital partners in Saudi Arabia. They currently have committed more than $3 billion in project finance for joint ventures in Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia’s economy continues to develop, we can envision a day when Korean firms also become partners with Saudi Aramco in joint ventures within the Kingdom.

Saudi Aramco sends some of our most promising students here to learn in Korea’s world-class universities and research institutes. We are proud to have a number of them here tonight.

The theme of tonight’s dinner is "Powering Possibilities." This is a phrase Saudi Aramco uses globally to express our capabilities and aspirations. And certainly nothing could be more fitting than this to describe the thrilling opportunities we see ahead in our relationship with Korea.

Korea is a model of inspiration for goals of social and economic progress to which the young, fast-growing population of Saudi Arabia aspires.

Six decades ago, Korea defied the pessimism of conventional thinking. The pessimists looked at Korea and saw a population lacking in natural resources and infrastructure.
The short-sighted saw poverty and weakness. But the visionaries who shaped today’s Korea saw power in possibilities – in human potential. They believed in the vast capacity of the Korean people’s minds and hearts. I sincerely admire the success of the Korean economy and also respect the Korean people, who made transformation possible only through their hard work, diligence, and confidence.

Fifteen years ago, the Korean people again showed a shining example to the world. From the depths of the IMF crisis, Korea adopted a disciplined and effective plan for recovery. As a result, today Korea’s per capita GDP has tripled since the crisis.

The Korean spirit, and the enduring friendship and shared sense of enterprise between Saudi Aramco and our Korean partners, give us much to celebrate tonight.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you again for your presence this evening. Thank you for sharing our belief in the innovative possibilities and the productive power of Aramco Asia Korea.