Hisham Nazer Named Head of Saudi Oil Firm

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Hisham Nazer has replaced an American to become the first Saudi chairman of Arabian American Oil Co., his country's major oil-producing company.

Nazer, 56, took over from John J. Kelberer, who headed Aramco for 10 years. Aramco President Ali I. Naimi will succeed Kelberer as chief executive.

The appointment of Nazer, announced late Tuesday in Houston, reflects the shrinking role in Aramco of the four big U.S. oil companies that were formerly partners in the venture: Exxon Corp., Texaco Inc., Chevron Corp. and Mobil Corp.

Aramco has operated oil fields, pipelines and refineries in the kingdom since 1938. The Saudi government has gradually taken over control of Aramco from the four companies, starting in the 1970s, so that it is now 100% Saudi-owned. The four oil majors now mainly provide technical assistance to the Saudis.

Kelberer will remain on the board as vice chairman, although he has effectively retired.

The change in Kelberer's position leaves only two Americans in operating positions equal to vice president or higher at Aramco headquarters in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Of Aramco's 42,000 or so employees in Saudi Arabia, only about 2,500 are Americans.

The Saudi government appointed Nazer oil minister in November, 1986, replacing Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani.

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