Saudi Aramco was a major focus at the Saudi-France CEO Forum held in Paris last week to promote bilateral business and cooperation between the two countries.

Coinciding with an official visit to France by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed ibn Salman ibn ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al Sa’ud, the company used the occasion to sign a number of cooperation arrangements and prospective commercial collaborations.

Speaking at the forum, Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said, “Saudi Aramco has a massive and highly ambitious investment program over the next decade, which is part of our portfolio expansion aspiration.”

The program includes a number of world-scale projects in which French businesses can play a major role by providing the strategic mix of technical capabilities and innovation to creating synergies, thereby benefiting both companies as well as the Kingdom.

“With Saudi Vision 2030, I believe there are more opportunities for collaboration and partnerships — not only in the oil and gas sector, but also in infrastructure, manufacturing, and services industries, which are critical to manage and operate an enterprise such as Saudi Aramco.”

Expanding in Jubail

Among the agreements signed, were two with French energy major Total — one of which is to build a giant chemicals complex in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

Signed on behalf of Total by CEO Patrick Pouyanné, the complex will be integrated downstream of the SATORP refinery — a joint venture between Saudi Aramco (62.5%) and Total (37.5%) in Jubail. The move is designed to fully exploit operational synergies.

The refinery has already undergone one upgrade since starting up in 2014, increasing from 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 440,000 bpd, while also being recognized as one of the most efficient in the world.

“At Saudi Aramco, we have real, tangible and meaningful opportunities to collaborate and build partnerships now, and in the future,” said Nasser. “The strengths of French businesses and industry can play a role in Saudi Aramco’s business plan, including in our diversification and expansion strategies underscored by the framework of Vision 2030.”

A future shaped by technology and collaboration

Raising the profile of the occasion were addresses and discussions involving Saudi ministers from across the government, including HE Khalid A. Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, and Chairman of the Saudi Aramco Board of Directors. Al-Falih opened proceedings alongside France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, paying compliments to the host’s renowned culture and position on the world stage.

Al-Falih also underlined how the future of the global economy was being shaped by advanced technology — an area where France excels, allowing it to sustain its position as an economic powerhouse. 

Also on the speaking roster were HE Dr. Majid A. Al Qasabi, the Kingdom’s Minister for Commerce and Investment, who discussed Saudi Arabia’s strides toward gender equality, and HE Yasir Al-Rumayyan, managing director of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — Saudi’s own sovereign wealth fund.

The Saudi PIF, which strives to become the world’s largest, was just one talking point at the forum, which also assessed the effectiveness of public-private partnerships in-Kingdom and how they might spark innovation, productivity, and knowledge transfer. Part of this knowledge transfer includes a better understanding of Kingdom policies designed to enhance it.

Through discussions that included HRH Reema bint Bandar, Deputy of Planning and Development, General Sport Authority, there was also exploration of how the two nations could collaborate in sectors such as culture, tourism, and sports, in which Saudi Arabia could leverage France’s renowned expertise — especially as the Kingdom shared its openness to work with partners to enhance lifestyle related sectors.

There was also much reflection on Saudi Vision 2030, the driving force behind much of the forum’s conversations, with particular regard for its pillars of being a vibrant society, thriving economy, and an ambitious nation.