Transparency will lead to respect

11 January 2008
There is much to applaud at oil giant Saudi Aramco. Oil expertise was nonexistent in the kingdom 75 years ago, but today the company is probably the most advanced national oil company in the world.

Since Riyadh signed concessions with US oil company Standard Oil of California in 1933, the company has not only absorbed the concession into what is now the state-owned Saudi Aramco, but has also adopted and then improved on some of the world's best technology.

Its contribution to Saudi Arabia's economy is immense and growing. The modernisation of its supply chain centres on the firm supporting and developing local businesses, while it has also been forming strategic relationships in key international markets.

However, there remains a key area in which Aramco needs to improve. The company's lack of transparency over its reserves means that analysts are left to speculate over declining rates and reserve levels, leading to uncertainty on the wider energy markets.

A further lack of transparency in areas such as safety and financial performance also raises questions among industry observers about why the company would want to remain silent.

This is not just an issue for Aramco; it is a problem across the region. But as one of the Gulf's giants, it could and should take a lead on the issue.

By making more information available, the firm would be rewarded with renewed confidence and respect for its operations from the world at large.

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