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Space Age Forum 2024 – Opening Remarks by Ahmad Al Khowaiter, EVP for Technology & Innovation

Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter - Executive Vice President Technology & Innovation

Ahmad Al Khowaiter, EVP for Technology & Innovation

Speech|Dhahran, Saudi Arabia|
Today we embark on a new journey into the heavens, launching Aramco’s ambitions to become a leader in the space sector. These ambitions extend beyond the oil and gas sector and to industry more broadly.

By reaching out into space we can achieve increased efficiency, increased sustainability and increased safety, among other benefits.

We also will support the Kingdom’s wider goals to develop a national space sector, localizing capabilities to spread benefits across many industries.

As we head deeper into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Internet of Things technologies are collecting greater and greater amounts of data which help companies, government and people make better, quicker and smarter decisions.

For a company like Aramco, our challenge is getting that data from all of our assets, all of our facilities from around the world to those who need to make those decisions.

Many of these facilities are too remote, spread out across the desert or at sea, to create traditional infrastructure, which is far too costly.

So since the 1970s we have been leveraging and using satellites to connect these facilities, but the huge increase in data which Internet of Things technology has enabled and has gathering makes it almost impossible to transmit that data cost effectively.

So the solution may lie in new technologies like Low Earth Orbit satellites. A new generation of satellites that can send more data, more quickly, giving us greater capabilities.

We will use these satellites to supercharge our 4IR operations while also investing in the technology itself. Alongside our partners, we will accelerate development for the benefit of the whole industry.

For us, better satellite communication improves efficiency, it improves monitoring and analysis of our processes and our facilities and it helps us better identify areas for improvement and predict future maintenance issues. It is also easier to restore satellite communications over terrestrial communications after natural disasters or other disruptions.

So our safety practices we hope will be improved through better satellite navigation, allowing us to deploy autonomous robots to carry out tasks which might otherwise put people in harm’s way.

And our sustainability program will be improved through better satellite observation, potentially allowing us to better monitor emissions across all of our facilities. This will take us another step closer to meeting our challenging emissions reduction targets.
So better communication, better navigation, better observation, all of this creates better efficiency, safety and sustainability.

So better satellite services can create a more competitive Aramco as well as a more competitive Kingdom.

And this is a sector that is predicted to grow very rapidly. Last year the value of the space economy was $508 billion. And by 2032, it is conservatively predicted to be worth $821 billion, an increase of 60%.

So alongside oil and gas, we know there are applications for this technology in areas from agriculture to infrastructure, mines to maritime.

There is clearly huge potential on this journey to space. I know the talent exists both here in Aramco, in the Kingdom and everywhere to make it happen. So I look forward to seeing where our shared endeavor can take us as we explore this new frontier.

Please join us in welcoming this new space age.

Thank you.

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