Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Khalid Al-Falih says petroleum industry is ideally positioned to create a new golden age.
Delivering a special address at the 20th World Petroleum Congress in the Qatari capital Doha on Tuesday, he said sweeping new realities have resulted in a confluence of factors, positioning the industry for a renaissance.
"When I speak about a renaissance for our industry, I am not talking about another decade-long boom where we spend more and make more," Al-Falih said. "Rather, I am referring to an era where we fulfill our commitments to humanity while also meeting our obligations to the natural environment."
He said the four key tenets - stamina, technology, people and responsibility - could serve as guiding principles for the industry to come up with long-term sustainable solutions.
"While many of the conditions for a new golden age are in place, there is nothing inevitable about business success for our companies or greater prosperity for the stakeholders we serve," Al-Falih said.
He called on the global petroleum community to develop solutions that will help the world population. The industry's tenet of responsibility, he said, also included developing a new generation of young talent and creating technologies to develop new products in making energy supplies cleaner and more efficient.
"The first of those tenets is what I refer to as our 'staying power' - the adoption of a long-term approach to business, characterized by both realism and resilience. In other words, it is what an athlete might term stamina, he said.
Citing Saudi Aramco's Manifa 900,000 barrel-per-day crude oil project as an example, Al-Falih explained that staying the course on investments is imperative for long-term success and not be undermined by short-term vulnerabilities.
With the typical project cycle being in the range of 10 to 15 years, in addition to the volatility in the oil markets, projects have become more complex, he said.
"I will be the first to acknowledge that adhering to that long-term view is not easy when the financial markets demand short-term results, and yet I believe it is critical if we are to bring this new golden age to fruition," Al-Falih said.
Companies are changing the way they operate, he said, as rapid advances are being made in technology, while a demographic shift is occurring with experienced engineers and specialized personnel retiring and a higher number of younger employees entering the industry with greater expectations and aspirations to make a difference.
"There is both challenge and opportunity in this transformation - the challenge of transferring hard-won expertise to a new generation, and the opportunity of capitalizing on the different and exciting skill sets, expectations, and worldview of this rising generation of young men and women," Al-Falih said.
In order to connect with younger employees, he said Saudi Aramco has established a Young Leaders Advisory Board to hear their views, ideas and insights.
Al-Falih said companies should go beyond annual environmental sustainability reports to broaden their engagement in social and economic areas of employment and entrepreneurship.