Saudi Aramco's Amin Nasser: Homegrown engineer who reached the top
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Saudi Aramco’s Amin Nasser: Homegrown engineer who reached the top

Saudi Aramco’s Amin Nasser: Homegrown engineer who reached the top

Nasser has become highly popular at Aramco, by promoting a decentralised culture and spending time with both leaders and workers, as per analysts tracking the oil giant’s growth

Amin-Nasser Aramco CEO

As news broke of Aramco preparing a 10bn offer, the company’s CEO Amin Nasser is in the spotlight. Nasser has been preparing for years for the order to sell more shares in Aramco, after managing the company’s initial public offering in a record $29.4bn listing in 2019.

The landmark deal is a major part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s drive to diversify the economy away from oil. The Saudi oil giant is one of the world’s most valuable companies.

While juggling the daily management tasks of a company with over 73,000 employees, Nasser has also addressed the questions that surround how to meet the world’s energy needs and become increasingly outspoken on the issue.

Read: Aramco CEO: “We should abandon the fantasy of phasing out oil and gas”


Under Nasser, Aramco has invested in refineries and petrochemical projects in China and elsewhere expanded its retail and trading businesses, and sharpened its focus on gas, making its first foray into liquefied natural gas abroad last year.

Before becoming CEO in 2015, the homegrown technocrat was an unknown quantity in the West.

In contrast to other Aramco CEOs, he is not a product of a major US university and instead climbed the company’s ranks after receiving a Saudi education.

Nasser began his career as a petroleum engineer. Before becoming CEO, he held positions including vice president of upstream when he led the company’s largest capital investment programme in its integrated oil and gas portfolio.

Managing expectations

To steer the company smoothly, he has to retain the support of two of the most powerful figures in the kingdom: Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Yasir al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Forum, who is also the chairman of Aramco‘s board of directors.

Nasser has become highly popular at Aramco by promoting a decentralised culture and spending time with both leaders and workers, analysts say.

During the holy month of Ramadan, he makes a point of visiting an Aramco field or plant every evening and breaking the fast with crews.

Pleasing the elite is also part of his job. That means being in sync with the ambitious economic diversification plan of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which encompasses a massive urban and industrial development project nearly the size of Belgium to be built along the Red Sea coast, NEOM.

“Nasser’s job is way bigger than that of the typical oil company CEO. His job is not just producing and marketing oil, but also keeping the Saudi government supplied with the revenues necessary to carry out the Vision 2030 agenda,” said Jim Krane, energy research fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute and author of the book Energy Kingdoms.

Aramco’s crisis manager

One of Nasser’s biggest tests came in 2019 when Yemen’s Houthis targeted Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil plants and halved Saudi Arabia’s crude output.

Nasser was at the Aramco emergency unit within seven minutes, said the industry source. He did not micro-manage and gave managers in the field the freedom to make decisions during a high-pressure moment.

“Despite 50 per cent of Aramco’s operations being impacted by the attack, within a matter of a few weeks, Aramco was able to restore the bulk of its operations,” said Mazen Alsudairi, head of research at Al Rajhi Capital.

“This was possible because he continued the strong risk management policy of the company that leaves no scope for leniency.”


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