Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest crude exporter, expects to become the top producer of refined products such as fuel and petrochemicals.
"In the years to come, we will become the world's single largest oil refiner," said President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih at a conference in Beijing.
He said China continues to provide the oil and gas industry with the level of confidence that is required for continued large-scale investment. "As one of the largest consumers of crude oil — and soon its largest importer — China plays an important role in the world of petroleum, especially for us at Saudi Aramco, the largest producer and exporter of crude oil," said Al-Falih at a petroleum technology conference in Beijing.
"There is a tremendous degree of complementarity and synergy between our company and the energy sector of China. That has been proven time and time again by the strengthening relationships we have enjoyed over the last two decades, though it is clear to me that the best days of our work with China are still to come," he said.
According to Al-Falih, four key factors have profoundly altered the world of petroleum.
"First, growth in global demand for oil has moderated over the last five years.
"Second, we have banished the specter of resource scarcity, in large part due to technological advances in exploration and producing, including the commercial development of unconventionals.
"Third, the continuing financial crisis has forced policy makers to reexamine their priorities and recognize the need for both companies and countries to remain globally competitive.
"And fourth, there has been a reexamination of the role renewables will play in the future, given their current low level of contributions and the considerable technical, economic, environmental and consumer acceptance hurdles they face. Coupled with that has been a more pragmatic rebalancing between the twin imperatives of economic growth and environmental protection, and a recognition that overly ambitious environmental regulations and taxes can undermine the still-fragile economic recovery," he said.
In the new energy landscape, he said, the central importance of oil and gas in the global energy mix has been reconfirmed and reinforced.
"Petroleum will remain the lifeblood of transport, trade and manufacturing, and the essential enabler of growth in both the developed and developing worlds for many decades to come," he said.
"Predictions of the imminent eclipse in the importance of oil and gas have proven to be wide of the mark — as those of us in the industry always knew they would."
The oil and gas industry is enjoying a renaissance. "However, if we can draw any lesson from the history of our industry, it is that rosy scenarios don't always play out as forecast. Therefore, I also warned that we need to better manage risks and examine a wider variety of both upside and downside scenarios for our business, all in the interest of greater resiliency," said Al-Falih.
"It is often said nowadays — with a good deal of justification that China is the locomotive that is pulling the global economy and helping industrialized economies emerge from recession primarily because of its rising demand. Similarly, in our industry I would assert that the downstream provides the pull for the upstream — and I would note again that China and its growing need for energy offers the brightest spot in the global landscape," he said.