Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) on Sunday reshuffled its senior management and created a division focused on “portfolio optimization” as the world’s biggest oil producer adapts to low crude prices and seeks new ways to raise cash.
The Saudi state energy company appointed senior vice president Abdulaziz Al Gudaimi to lead a new corporate development team that would “assess existing assets” and boost access to “growth markets,” it said in a statement.
He would report to chief executive officer Amin Nasser and start on Sept. 13, it said.
“The organization will support rapid and effective decisionmaking on the company’s portfolio,” Aramco said.
Aramco also named Nasir Al Naimi as acting head of the upstream business — the exploration and production arm — while Mohammed Al Qahtani is to take over the downstream unit, said people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified.
The downstream business involves refining, chemicals, pipelines and fuel retailing, and was previously led by Al Gudaimi.
Aramco is adjusting to weaker energy prices as the COVID-19 pandemic hammers the global economy, with Brent crude having fallen 33 percent this year to about US$44 a barrel.
The company is slashing investment so it can fulfill its pledge to pay a US$75 billion dividend this year, even as its debt surges.
Most of the dividend goes to the Saudi state, which needs the funds as it faces a major revenue squeeze.
Earlier this year, Aramco hired advisers for a potential multibillion-dollar sale of a stake in its pipeline business.
Chairman Yasir Al Rumayyan in February said there were non-core assets that could be monetized.
In another sign of Aramco’s changing priorities, it suspended plans for a US$10 billion refinery in China.
The project was unveiled with great fanfare last year.
Aramco did not comment on the appointments to the upstream and downstream businesses. The company’s shares have dropped 3.3 percent in Riyadh this year.
That is far less than other major energy firms, such as Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which has fallen 52 percent, and Exxon Mobil Corp, down 41 percent.
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