Saudi Aramco\'s crude oil output in 2011 rose to 9.1 million barrels per day from 7.9 million a year earlier. This was revealed in the oil giant\'s 2011 Annual Review, titled Aiming Higher. It was released yesterday. Writing in the review, Ali Al-Naimi, minister of petroleum and mineral resources and chairman of Saudi Aramco\'s board of directors, said: \"2011 was characterized by new challenges for the world, and new opportunities for Saudi Aramco.\" Referring to the social and political unrest that affected parts of the Middle East, he said: \"Many nations struggled to boost economic growth against a backdrop of high unemployment and large national debt.\" \"The company (Saudi Aramco) supported global energy security and petroleum market stability through the continuing reliability of its operations and its investment in significant spare production capacity,\" Al-Naimi said. Exports by Saudi Aramco jumped to 2.42 billion barrels in 2011 from 2.02 billion in 2010, rising to 6.63 million bpd from 5.5 million. The company said gas production averaged 9.9 billion cubic feet per day in 2011 from 9.4 billion in 2010. Gas reserves rose to 282.6 trillion standard cubic feet from 279 trillion. \"Historically, our spare capacity has been tapped to compensate for production disruptions and declining supply from other major suppliers, and is a cornerstone of the Kingdom\'s forward-looking energy policy,\" he said. \"As we have seen, such events can trigger a strong reaction in global energy markets. Such circumstances point to the need for steadfast consistency and readiness for swift and decisive action on the part of energy companies and policymakers alike,\" he said. According to the veteran minister, as Saudi Aramco continues to meet growing international and domestic demand for energy, the company is taking great steps to expand the role it plays in the energy industry and the petroleum sector, both in the Kingdom and abroad. \"We expect last year\'s massive investments in downstream activities, particularly in refining and petrochemicals, to contribute to the value and diversification of our company and the Kingdom\'s economy for many years to come,\" he said. Al-Naimi thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Naif for their continued support. \"Under their wise leadership, I am confident Saudi Aramco will continue to aim higher, excelling in our traditional business activities while taking on new roles and expanding our positive impact in the Kingdom and the world,\" he said. President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih described 2011 as a year of outstanding performance across the board for the company. \"We exceeded our production target, increased our innovation efforts, aggressively grew our downstream businesses, and continued to meet fast-growing domestic and global demand for energy. Our growth prospects and reliability and safety performance are as strong and promising as ever. It was a year of truly memorable productivity, marked by continued contributions to the Kingdom\'s development and prosperity,\" he said. He said Saudi Aramco does not rest on its laurels. \"Instead of adopting a passive stance, we have always focused on proactively shaping our operating environment and enhancing our ability to excel within that environment,\" said Al-Falih. Saudi Aramco, he said, has defined an ambitious target for 2020. \"We want to transform the company, building on our current success to become the world\'s leading integrated energy and chemicals company, to facilitate the sustainable and diversified expansion of the Kingdom\'s economy, and to enable a globally competitive and vibrant Saudi energy sector,\" he said in the review.