Beijing — Seizing opportunities through collaboration will create synergies to further strengthen the long-standing relationship between Saudi Arabia and China, Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser told the China Development Forum (CDF) 2017 in Beijing.
Nasser was addressing distinguished delegates from leading companies, international organizations and academia from around the world. This year’s CDF took place just after the historic state visit to China by the Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques, King Salman ibn ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Sa’ud.
Nasser said the close association between the two countries could be further augmented with a host of new business and economic opportunities ranging from energy collaboration, knowledge and technology transfer, as well as innovation-driven industries, benefiting both countries and beyond.
An ideal platform for prosperous trade
Highlighting various opportunities for mutual growth, he told ministers, officials, and industry leaders that Saudi Arabia provides China’s defining strategic economic initiatives with an ideal platform for prosperous trade between the Middle East and Asia, providing a vital trade link to other regions surrounding the two.
“This year’s CDF, in particular, has greater significance for Saudi Aramco, taking place only days after the historic state visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman ibn ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Sa’ud, to China,” said Nasser in his speech at CDF’s Session III, which featured the theme “Made in China 2025 and Structural Reforms.”
“As President Xi (Jinping) and King Salman agreed during the state visit that both our countries should deepen cooperation in the energy sector, Saudi Aramco stands ready for opportunities to invest and to collaborate, and for opportunities that would bring our two nations even closer together,” Nasser said. “Let us seize them and advance the transformation process for our two countries, and indeed, the world.
“We in Saudi Arabia have been closely following China’s three defining strategic economic initiatives — ‘Go Global,’ ‘Belt and Road,’ and ‘Made in China 2025.’ "
That interest has only intensified with last year’s launch of Saudi Vision 2030 and the parallels it has with all three. As a result, enormous opportunities are opening up for our countries and companies to seize,” he added.
Three areas for synergy
Nasser outlined three areas that could emerge from this dynamic synergy between both countries that would benefit companies across a broad spectrum of industries. The first opportunity concerns enhancing two-way investment flows between the two countries, which would help with both China’s “Go Global” and “Belt and Road,” as well as Vision 2030.
“Chinese companies can benefit from the Kingdom’s strategic location on the Maritime Silk Road by establishing manufacturing, logistical, and R&D bases — especially on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. From there, they can easily access large markets in the wider Middle East North Africa region, all the way up to Europe, and they can also easily access the Kingdom’s vast energy resources and supply of petrochemicals,” he said. “Equally, with the right opportunities, we would like to further strengthen our oil supply relationship and multiply our investments in China, particularly in the downstream.”
The second area is aligned with the Paris Agreement. It is anticipated that hydrocarbons will still be meeting a significant portion of the world’s primary energy demand even a quarter of a century from now, and all sources of energy would be needed.
“However, we must deal with carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change. This is where hydrogen and carbon capture utilization and storage could be game changers for Saudi Arabia and China,” he said.
Nasser explained that although hydrogen mostly comes from gas, it could also increasingly come from oil and coal. “If carbon capture, utilization, and storage — and hydrocarbons — can be made to work together, then green hydrogen is within our reach,” he said.
This would revolutionize future mobility, as hydrogen-based fuel cell vehicles are not far behind electric vehicles. Hydrogen- based fuel cells also have the power to revolutionize electric power generation.
In panel remarks, Nasser said that when combined with carbon capture, utilization, and storage, Saudi Arabia could convert its vast oil and gas resources into clean hydrogen- based mobility and power, while China could convert its vast coal resources into clean hydrogen-based electricity.
The third area involves “noncombustible” uses of oil to create a variety of new materials.
Saudi Aramco’s crude-to-chemicals initiative — which looks to directly convert crude into petrochemicals, eliminating the entire refining step of the process — could change the competitive dynamics of petrochemical feedstocks and assist in developing advanced new materials, as well as enable new uses.
That could positively have an impact with new materials as part of the 10 focus areas of Made in China 2025.
CDF is China’s most preeminent platform for dialog between China’s senior leadership and representatives from global leading businesses, international organizations, and scholars from home and abroad. This is the forum’s 18th session since its debut in 2000.
The theme of the CDF this year — “China and the World: Economic Transformation through Structural Reforms” — addresses key topical issues concerning China and the world in a time of global uncertainties, including the economy and industry, international relations, public policy, sustainable development, health and welfare, finance, and technology and innovation.
MoUs and bilateral meetings
Apart from speaking at the CDF, Nasser’s agenda in Beijing also involved the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Saudi Aramco and China North Industries Corporation (Norinco Group) and Aerosun Corporation at the Saudi-Chinese Investment Forum. The MoU with Norinco enables further strategic cooperation and downstream investment opportunities in China, which include the development of a refinery and chemical facilities. The MoU with Aerosun involves the manufacturing of reinforced thermoplastic (RTP) pipe, as well as research and development.
Several bilateral meetings were held with leaders of key Chinese entities. They included Li Wei, president (minister) of the Development Research Center; Wang Yupu, chairman of Sinopec; Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Wanda Group; Huang Danhua, vice chairman of state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council; Wang Yilin, chairman of CNPC; and He Jiuchang, Yanchang Petroleum Group chairman.
Nasser also attended a CEO dialog organized by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation.
Roads of Arabia exhibition
Another highlight of the visit was attending the closing ceremony of the Roads of Arabia exhibition, which was presided over by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The exhibition, which was on its Asian tour, was launched last December with China as the first location, sponsored by Saudi Aramco.
The groundbreaking Roads of Arabia exhibit debuted in November 2012 in Washington, D.C., and has made several stops at major cities outside of the Kingdom. Featuring hundreds of objects on display highlighting Arabia’s vibrant cultural and commercial connections with civilizations and countries across time and distance, Roads of Arabia has brought the treasures and artifacts of the Kingdom’s past to new audiences.
King Abdulaziz Public Library
Nasser also attended the inauguration by King Salman of the King Abdulaziz Public Library branch at Peking University, where the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques was also conferred an honorary doctorate by the university.
The library’s role is to motivate cultural communication between the Arab world and China, as well as to provide a conducive platform for researchers. The library is expected to further enhance bilateral relations and strengthen the bridge of cultural and social ties between the two nations.
Saudi Aramco played a key role in the library construction in terms of its interior, furniture, decoration, and landscaping. It also arranged for the delivery and placement for the first group of about 26,000 books.