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From Aramco to North Pole…New Generation in Saudi-Russian Cooperation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Khalid al-Falih speaks during his keynote address at the CERAWeek 2010 energy conference in Houston March 9, 2010. Reuters

Kuwait – The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia has changed dramatically in just two years.
In the same month, June 2015, and in the same city, St. Petersburg, former Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi signed a cooperation agreement with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

Back then, Russia was producing oil without any coordination with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and yesterday, during the St. Petersburg conference of Aramco to the North Pole… a new era for Russian-Saudi international cooperation was born; the headlines came out different and even “revolutionary.”

From the thought of buying shares in Saudi Aramco by Russian investors to Aramco’s thought of entering into a Russian project in the North Pole, there is no doubt that what is happening in the oil relations between the two countries is “a complete revolution.”

It seems that Saudi Arabia is adopting a new oil policy through deepening its cooperation with the world’s major producers, Russia and the United States. Few weeks ago, during a visit by US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih explained that the Kingdom would expand its investment in the United States through “Motiva Enterprises,” which has the largest US refinery.

Now, Saudi Arabia has turned to the East, and not the far east with China but to the near East with Russia. It is not unlikely that the Russians will return to the Kingdom with greater and deeper investment than the Luksar project, in the southeast Empty Quarter the Rub al Khali, that ended without producing natural gas and was the only joint project between the two countries.

For his part, Falih was responsible for the negotiations on gas with Lukoil in early 2000s in order to establish Luksar, which is a joint projects between Saudi Aramco and Russian Lukoil.

Falih has pointed out that he has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin twice during his current visit to Moscow and that he has assured by Putin that Russia’s cooperation with OPEC will last long.

Notably, Falih pursues a different policy from his predecessor Nuaimi as Falih seems to want Aramco to be “industrially intertwined” with the rest of the world’s major companies and in new markets and fields.

The Saudi Energy Minister said on Friday that Saudi Arabia’s national oil company Saudi Aramco aims to invest globally in production of gas and liquefied natural gas after holding its initial public offering.