Aramco reshuffles top management, Al Naimi to head upstream segment

Topics Saudi Aramco

In the oil industry, the upstream business focuses on exploration and production
Saudi Aramco reshuffled its senior management, appointing an acting head for the upstream business, as the world’s biggest oil producer adjusts to low crude prices.Nasir Al Naimi will become head of the upstream division until further notice, said people familiar with matter, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private. Mohammed Al Qahtani, who ran the unit, will become head of downstream business.

Aramco couldn’t be reached for comment immediately.

The moves come as Aramco adjusts to the reality of oil at $40 a barrel. It’s slashing spending and investment to try to preserve a $75-billion dividend even as its debt surges past targets set just last year. Most of the dividend goes to the Saudi state, which needs the funds as it faces a major revenue squeeze.

In the oil industry, the upstream business focuses on exploration and production, while the downstream business focuses on refining, chemicals and marketing. By far, Aramco’s most profitable unit is its upstream business.

The oil producer earlier Sunday said it’ll set up a division for portfolio optimization and strategic alignment, headed by senior vice president Abdulaziz Al Gudaimi. He previously ran Aramco’s downstream business, according to information on the company’s website.

In a potential sign of Aramco’s changing priorities as it tries to preserve cash, the company suspended a $10-billion project to build a refinery in China, Bloomberg reported last week. The project was unveiled to great fanfare last year but low oil prices —- driven by the impact of the coronavirus on demand — are forcing energy companies to reassess their portfolios.

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