Special report: Saudi Aramco - The drive to boost output

11 January 2008

Even the keenest supporters of Saudi Arabia’s first oil exploration programme 75 years ago could not have foreseen the power the kingdom wields today in the world’s energy markets.

Back in 1933, only the most adventurous of prospectors felt that Saudi Arabia’s oil plans were sound. From finding viable oil reserves to obtaining the technology to extract, refine and then transport it, the obstacles seemed insurmountable. It is easy to see how it took nearly six months to hammer out the terms of the Kingdom’s first oil concession, which brought in the expertise of US oil companies.

As Saudi oil celebrates its 75th anniversary, the raft of challenges facing Saudi Aramco seems no less daunting than those of 1933.

Once again, the kingdom is seeking to increase its output in the face of doubts from analysts about the viability of its fields.

It is also seeking to boost its refining cap-acity to ensure that its heavy oil reserves will be purchased by international customers.

And most significantly of all, Aramco is striving to find and exploit natural gas reserves to serve the kingdom’s growing industrial base.

But if there is one thing that can be learned from the past 75 years, it is that anyone who underestimates the Saudi oil giant is likely to be making a costly mistake.

Index of all Saudi Aramco special report stories

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