What if Ali Al-Naimi did not impede Saudi gas production! – Saudi News

On January 21, 2003, the Elaf electronic newspaper published a remarkable report entitled:

Saudi Arabia .. Pressure to remove the Saudi Oil Minister!!

The report tells the story of the faltering negotiations of gas projects that the Saudi government started early, specifically at the end of the year 2000, with major oil and gas companies around the world. Although many expected it to succeed, something mysterious was standing in its way and seeking a solid wall that led to its failure over and over, prompting the major energy companies to withdraw from the negotiations and close the file until the new Saudi administration came in 2015, and Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman took over The energy file to resume and maximize the Kingdom’s oil position and gas discoveries, with the support of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The text of the Elaph newspaper report, which sheds light on the past without noticing anyone, says:

Western companies are fed up with negotiations with Saudi Arabia over gas projects worth billions of dollars in order to remove Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, according to sources close to the file, and after American oil companies considered that they would not be able to obtain any concession from the Saudi minister, they began and since the beginning of the year 2002 A crackdown on his intransigence in the negotiations aimed at starting the operation of the Saudi gas project, and the Financial Times, citing industrial sources, announced the imminent removal of the Saudi Oil Minister in a government reshuffle.

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The specialized oil bulletin “Petrostrategy” reported that the Saudi Oil Minister has support in the negotiations he is carrying out on three projects called the “Saudi Gas Initiative.” It is considered the first opening of the energy sector in Saudi Arabia since its nationalization.

The Saudi Gas Initiative, a project estimated at $25 billion, which was officially launched in June 2001, provides for the participation of foreign companies active in oil and gas affairs in exploration and then investing in the Kingdom’s natural gas reserves in the framework of a partnership with Aramco. » Saudi National.

The Financial Times said that Al-Naimi, who was formerly head of Aramco, opposed this project even before it was officially launched, stressing that the return of foreign companies to Saudi lands after the nationalization of the sector in 1975 would pose strategic problems for the Kingdom.

Negotiations are continuing on two of the three projects, the first with a consortium headed by BP-allied ExxonMobil. BP Imoco, Philips Petroleum, and the second project with Shell, Total Fina Alf and Conoco. Negotiations for the third project, jointly run by ExxonMobil, Occidental and Marathon, are currently pending. (End of Elaph text).

Years later, Minister Ali Al-Naimi’s memoirs under the title “From the Badia to the World of Oil” became public, in which he explicitly stated that he was behind the failure of the Saudi gas initiative, and that his strictness was what led to the closure of its file.

Today, as we see the world in a great predicament due to the gas crisis, the scarcity of suppliers and the lack of supply, we ask: What if Al-Nuaimi emerged from the shell of doubt and rejection at that time and allowed the negotiations to pass and move to the level of agreement and production? Where would Saudi Arabia’s gas production stop today? Especially since the cost at that time was reasonable, and the investment in infrastructure had ended and production and export had begun, and Saudi Arabia would have quenched the markets’ thirst for gas, and would have dominated production and export and the resulting enormous influence in light of a crisis ravaging the world.

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Saudi Arabia had chosen eight international companies to invest in three pivotal projects to develop gas fields. The leadership of the implementation of the first project to develop the northern Empty Quarter, and the second pivotal project in the Red Sea and northwest Saudi Arabia, was entrusted to ExxonMobil, which leads in the first a consortium of companies In the second, it leads a consortium that includes two companies: Exdantal Petroleum and Enron, while the implementation of the third pivotal project (the Shaybah field and the southeast area of ​​the Empty Quarter) was entrusted to Royal Dutch Shell and includes the two companies, Total Fina Alf and Conoco.

Let us go back to that delicate stage that followed the September 11, 2001 bombings, and the accompanying economic stagnation, the decline in oil sales and the emergence of gas on the horizon. At the time, he revealed that negotiations with the targeted companies also included the development of water, electricity and petrochemical projects.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal said in statements carried by news agencies: “The committee concerned with negotiations has completed its mission to reach agreements on water, electricity and petrochemical projects, and only the technical issues remain that will be entrusted to the “Minister of Petroleum” to end these negotiations as soon as possible.”

What did the minister do after the matter reached him?!

There is no doubt that Al-Nuaimi’s intransigence, according to his confession in his memoirs, missed a historic opportunity for Saudi Arabia that could have pushed for the dominance of the gas market and its industry, as it dominated and continues to dominate the oil market for eighty years. This has caused a delay in the gas investment project for two decades.

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Without a doubt, Saudi Arabia, with its great economic position, was able to confirm its position as a reliable provider of energy following the Saudi Vision project and deep economic reform, which included the oil industry from reservoirs to refineries in partnership with the OPEC Plus group, in addition to restoring the initiative in the gas industry and other energy products led by the Minister of Energy Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman currently.