Should You Renew Your U.S. Passport Now?

27 November 2015 | 0 comments | Special Interest | by

Dear American Citizen Community,

As a reminder, Visa Pages Inserts will no longer be available after December 31 – please plan accordingly if you would like to have more visa pages inserted into your current passport.

Additionally, we are now accepting appointments for our ACS Outreach in Jubail in December. Please email if you are interested in scheduling an appointment in Jubal in December.

Plan now. Avoid stressful travel later.

In 2007, the Department of State experienced an unprecedented surge in passport applications, issuing over 18 million passports as a result of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). Nearly ten years later, those passports are beginning to expire, and the Department has been experiencing increased demand for passport renewals. We expect the increase in passport applications to continue through 2018. Compounding this increase will be the cessation of Visa Page Inserts (or supplemental visa pages) on December 31, 2015.

Whether you are renewing a passport or applying for the first time, the passport application process can be completed without added stress if done ahead of time.

  • Apply during the off-peak season from September through December to help ensure timely processing of your passport.
  • Our busiest months are January through August when passport demand is extremely high and when applications may take longer to process.
  • Many countries require U.S. passports to have at least 6 months of validity and some require two blank pages for entry. Review the entry/exit requirements for your destination now.
  • Look out for passport expiration dates because they can differ. Many parents forget or don’t realize that a child’s passport is valid for 5 years unlike adult passports which are valid for 10 years.

Please encourage your friends, family, and registrants to submit passport applications well ahead of their planned travel dates in order to avoid delays receiving their travel documents.

American Citizen Services
Consulate General of the United States | Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Department of State | +966.013.330.3200 |
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PT Pertamina and Saudi Aramco Ink HoA for Refinery Upgrading Project in Indonesia

26 November 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Amin Nasser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi AramcoAmin Nasser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco

In the presence of Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla; Indonesia’s state-owned PT Pertamina and Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia, have signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) to formalize key business principles for joint ownership, operation and upgrade of the Cilacap Refinery located in Central Java, Indonesia as part of Pertamina’s Refinery Development Master Plan (RDMP). The signing was held during the Vice President’s inauguration of the newly commissioned Residual Fluid Catalytic Cracking (RFCC) facility at the Cilacap Refinery, and the kick off of the Blue Sky project, both of which are designed to produce higher quality gasoline.

Also present were ministers from the Indonesian cabinet; the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Mustafa Al Mubarak; President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco Amin H. Nasser; and President Director and Chief Executive Officer of PT Pertamina Dwi Soetjipto.

The proposed Cilacap Refinery upgrade will enable the refinery to process more sour crudes, meet high quality product specifications (Euro IV) and produce basic petrochemicals and lubricant base oils. The capacity expansion to 370 MBD will help Indonesia meet its increasing demand of refined products, lubricant base oils and petrochemicals. The agreement includes a long-term supply agreement for Arabian crudes to Cilacap refinery.

This HoA will pave the way for the next phase of development within the scope of collaboration between the two parties. The Basic Engineering Design Study for the Cilacap refinery upgrade is expected to commence soon and be completed by 2016.

RDMP is part of Pertamina’s mission as a national energy company to produce and market fuel products for Indonesia. RDMP will increase the competitiveness of Indonesia’s refineries while increasing domestic supply security.

“Indonesia is a rising powerhouse in the global economy, and has long deep rooted trade and cultural ties with Saudi Arabia. It’s refining sector has enormous potential, and with Indonesia’s fast-growing demand for refined products, Saudi Aramco’s role in Cilacap can help fuel this country’s coming era of development and prosperity,” said Amin Nasser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco at the signing ceremony.

Participation in the RDMP will offer Saudi Aramco a major growth component of its global Downstream expansion portfolio aspiration, designed to make Saudi Aramco the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals company. The investment would take place within a high growth petroleum demand in South East Asia which has been earmarked in the company’s downstream strategy.

In July 2014 Pertamina offered Saudi Aramco and other strategic partners the opportunity to participate in its RDMP to upgrade and expand five existing domestic refineries (Cilacap; Balongan; Dumai; Plaju; and Balikpapan) from 820 MBD of aggregate processing capacity to 1,680 MBD

Saudi Aramco was selected by Pertamina as a strategic partner for three of the five refineries: Cilacap and Balongan in Java; and Dumai in Sumatra.

Saudi Aramco signed a MOU on December 10, 2014 giving the company exclusivity to conduct a feasibility study jointly with Pertamina for the three refinery expansions and negotiate key business principles.

About PT Pertamina

Pertamina is Indonesia’s state-owned integrated oil and gas company. We are committed to an ongoing process of transformation and continuous improvement that will lead to our achieving global standards of operational, environmental, and corporate performance. As a national oil company, we are committed to balancing profitable performance with our public service mandate. Pertamina has 57 years of experience in the challenging geological environment of Indonesia, were pioneers in the development of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and now have operations in six countries.

Our businesses include the exploration and production of oil and gas; the refining, manufacturing and marketing of oil products and petrochemicals; and the development of biofuels, geothermal power and other sustainable alternative energy sources.

Pertamina has operations and facilities throughout Indonesia. Pertamina’s employees serve the energy needs of over 240 million Indonesians.

“Dear Folks”: The Webster Letters From Arabia, 1944-1959

26 November 2015 | 1 comment | In Search Of Oil | by


Mildred Webster, the official family “correspondent,” starts off the New Year of 1947 with a full report on Christmas activities in the camps, hopes for the family’s first home leave later in the year, and observations about her husband’s “playing” the Roupee market in Bahrain.  Then, inexplicably, letters from the next two months are missing – lost in transit to the United States and, presumably, never received by family members.  (This is later attributed to boat mail losses compounded by the still less-than-normal transportation situation in war-torn Europe and bad weather in New York City during the winter).  During the two-month gap in the letters, King Ibn Saud visits the Aramco camps with an enormous entourage, resulting in international media coverage, including a spread in Life magazine.  Mildred celebrates her first anniversary in Arabia, Aramco’s huge investment in the area really begins to take off, Ken Webster receives a big promotion to help oversee (and spend tens of millions of dollars on) all company construction, engineering and communications in Arabia, the unique partnership between Aramco and the Saudi Royal Family begins to reap major rewards in terms of oil production and profits, and the camps continue to flourish.

This chapter covers January to March 1947.

Dear Folks One of hundreds of airmail envelopes containing lengthy letters to Stateside family members during the Webster Family’s many years in Saudi Arabia.  This one is addressed to Mildred Webster’s father and stepmother in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Photo by Ken Slavin

Ras Tanura
January 4, 1947

Dear Folks:

I hurried a letter out the other day with a friend going home…didn’t have a chance to say much.

You do know by now, though, that we received the (Christmas) boxes – late, but they did get here.  In a way it was even more fun that way, for we had two Christmases . . . thanks for all the lovely gifts.  Ken was delighted with his and so was I.  The girls were, too, and got such a kick out of them all.  We really had a picnic opening all the things.   I must confess, though, that I held a few things back for the girls – to be used for birthday presents and also held out some of the funny books – they got so many and that way it scatters them out.  Our house is the most popular in camp – the kids just swarm in here and sprawl themselves on the children’s beds and floor and then there is complete silence for hours . . .

All in all, it was a most busy time and packed full.  The Sunday School, which is conducted in one of the homes by three of the mothers, had a lovely Vesper Service and later a truly fine tree and a gorgeous Santa – I had some things in reserve and had brought all my decorations, so we managed fine.  We were able to get a bike for Judy – a boy’s bike, but she doesn’t care – it is just the right size, too.  It was one of a bunch sent out here three years ago, so we felt very fortunate about that.  Then there were a few pairs of roller skates – we got them each a pair.  I bought two pairs of native dolls – they are made to order at the mission on Bahrain – they are authentic, but quite crude – something for them to keep.  Also picked up a few things at the bazaar (Editor’s note:  This is a reference to the event put on by the Dhahran Women’s Club in the fall of 1946) – some toys from Asmara – Eritrea – in Africa.  Our tree was juniper sent by plane from Asmara – and quite pretty.    Then a group of us got together several afternoons and mornings and made decorations for trees – and it is amazing what can be done when you have to.  Actually, I don’t believe a child suffered from the fact they were a long way from home – (despite the fact that) so many do not have their household effects yet.

There were parties and parties for grownups – from open houses to a kids’ party, which was worlds of fun.  No one got any sleep and felt that the Season was really celebrated.  Ken and I had open house for about 100 before the formal dance New Year’s Eve.  It turned out to be a huge success and I am so glad we went ahead and did it.  Everyone looked so pretty all dressed up and all seemed to enjoy themselves.  The house did look pretty, too.

That whole week was one of marvelous weather – we had heat on in the AC – it is reversible, you know – cold water in the summer and hot in the winter.  We had been wearing winter suits and coats.  But that week it was delightfully warm again and we spent lots of time on the beach.  New Year’s Day a whole bunch were on the beach and several went swimming…today is still nice, but not so sunny and a little overcast.  I am on the porch, though, in just a blouse and skirt writing this.

School started again this morning, thank goodness.  This business of three months in school and one off is fine.  One month at a time is enough vacation for children out here, where they spend most of the time outside anyway!

We are beginning to think about the way to take home – and have hopes of a tour through the Continent.  It can be done now – I don’t know how nice the accommodations are – several have gone that way but we haven’t heard yet how it was.  (Editor’s note:  Europe was still recovering from the ruin and shortages of World War II, which ended only months earlier.)  We want to do the Holy Land, then go across from Cairo by plane to Rome (you can’t go to Athens right now – but might by the time we go), up into Switzerland, on through Paris again and to London, and home by boat from there.  The Company allowance won’t cover it, but we think it would be a shame not to see something while we have the chance.  They allow us 28 days before our home leave starts and this trip can be done in that – of course, you can take as much of your home time as you want, but we wouldn’t want to use it all up on this side.  We both want to do the South Pacific trip sometime – but it takes a very long time – Ken figures we had better trip on the way out for so often after you get home and it nears your time to return, they start hurrying you and we would probably fly back.

All things being equal, we plan to come back for at least one more contract (30 months).  We really would be foolish not to – Ken could never have hoped to get this salary in the States for years – if ever.  He got another $80.00 raise for Christmas – and aside from the sad fact we are so far from our families, we all like it very much.  We can stay for that next contract and Judy still will only be 13.

It is a swell setup and Ken is in the groove.  These fellows were lucky to get in on the beginning…and apparently Ken is on his way.  At one of the Christmas parties, he was introduced to some men from Bahrain with, “This is the Texas Company prodigy, you know, but we like him just the same.”  I don’t know what the score is now that the new deal with Socony has gone through – we may not go back to Dhahran.  But even if we stay in this job here, it is fine.  Ken is assistant to Bob King and Bob is the top man in Ras Tanura.  Oh, well, it will all be okay.  I’d just as soon live here as there – we are all settled in our house and it really is very nice.  I love the beach, but like it down there, too (Dhahran) – so whichever is okay with me.

Susan looks so much better since we came back here. She is out all the time – is brown again and has gained 2 ½ pounds.  She gains by ounces and I guess always will be skinny like I was.  She has really grown up so much lately.  Judy just gains along normally and is a nice size – filled out, but not fat.  The teacher wants to put her in the fourth grade and she is doing a lot of fourth grade work.  I told them it was up to them if they thought she could do the work.  That is the beauty of this sort of school – they can sort of advance at their own speed.  We have two teachers now – a man and a woman – and 26 children altogether in the two rooms.  I feel sure that over a period of years the children will come out ahead.  They are missing some things – I would like them to have some dancing, just for poise and posture if not for anything else – but on the other hand they are getting a lot they couldn’t get at home, too.  If we can work in all the trips we have planned, that alone will be an education.

Ken has been playing the Roupee market in Bahrain – the exchange is up now and we have been doing very well on it.  They want American money to buy American goods and the market has been fluctuating lately.  The rate of exchange over here is three something – and there it has been up to $4.10 and they predict it will be up to $5.  Ken has converted three good-sized checks from there and we have made our expenses – not bad!  He plans to send over a $1,500 check this week and will make $750.00, if all goes well.  It won’t last for long, though, as everyone is taking advantage of it.

The ship that brought in the Christmas boxes also brought in reefer stuff, so we have been gorging on celery, apples, grapefruit, oranges, cabbage and some bananas. . . D’Souza did make a beautiful banana cream pie the other night.  He still is our treasure and we hope to continue to keep him.

I am reading Delta Wedding . . . it is interesting and different.  I think the authoress hoped it would be another Gone with the Wind and it falls decidedly short of that – but good reading.

I plan a buffet supper party on Ken’s birthday (January 31) but that is the only thing in the future I have on my mind.

One more week and it will be ten months since we got here – doesn’t seem possible – in some ways, seems I have always been here; in others, seems like a few weeks.

I’d better go along now – thanks ever so much for all the nice things – it was swell of you to go to all the trouble of getting them ready and so early – but believe me, it was grand to receive them.  Hope you got the cable and that your holiday was all you hoped for.

Best love to all,  Mimi

P.S.  Did you know U.S.A. also means Union of South Africa?  Several boys leaving this week to spend local leaves in South Africa.

Dear Folks Ras Tanura dormitories and mosque – January 1947.
Life magazine photo by David Douglas Duncan – courtesy Judy Webster Bauer

Editor’s Note:  Following are excerpts from “Dhahran 1947: Royal Visit,” an article written by the late William E. Mulligan for The Arabian Sun in April 1984.  Because of the absence of Webster letters from January and February 1947, I thought the excerpts would help “fill in the blanks” about this historic occasion that touched the lives of all Aramcons living in the camps at that time – and which made international headlines.  This section is illustrated with photos from a Life magazine article about the King’s visit – courtesy of my aunt, Judy Webster Bauer.

King 'Abd al-'Aziz Al Sa'ud King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa’ud, founder of Saudi Arabia, during his visit to the Aramco camps in January 1947.
Life photo by David Douglas Duncan – courtesy Judy Webster Bauer

“In January 1947, Aramco played host to King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa’ud for five tumultuous days.  The aged King arrived in a fleet of six airplanes and was accompanied by four of his brothers, eight of his sons and most of the royal court.

“On hand to greet the King, in addition to the entire Aramco community, was American Minister J. Rives Childs, resplendent in top hat, morning coat and striped trousers.  The American press was represented not only by regular correspondents, but also by Life magazine and newsreel photographers.  And on the third day of the visit, the Ruler of Bahrain and a large entourage came to call.

“The journalists’ coverage of the King’s visit naturally drew attention to the tremendous oil wealth resulting from Aramco’s production of 200,000 barrels of oil a day.  There were glowing references to the modern industrial town of Dhahran, complete with air conditioning. . .

“Dhahran was quite a boom town in 1947 . . . There were no families living as yet in Abqaiq.  There were 45 children in Dhahran and 43 in Ras Tanura.  The Sun and Flare, predecessor of The Arabian Sun, was a mimeographed publication . . .

The King The King enjoys Aramco children gathered on colorful rugs on the Dhahran tennis court for a special audience. Seated in background, from left, are Judy Webster and Alice Fullmer in nearly matching broad-brimmed hats – Judy’s is marked with a small “x.” According to the original Life magazine caption, the King was served a plate of Fig Newtons, visible here on the table beside His Majesty.
Life photo by David Douglas Duncan – provided courtesy Judy Webster Bauer

“The King toured Aramco installations in Dhahran . . and in Ras Tanura . . . His visit to Ras Tanura was somewhat curtailed by the arrival that afternoon of the Shaykh of Bahrain.  Among the gifts which the Ruler…brought the King were 14 mares, two stallions and 32 camels – prize winners all . . .

“For lunch and dinner on the day the King entertained the Ruler of Bahrain, there were cooked 925 chickens, 320 sheep, and a number of camels.  The meals were served under six large tents erected end-to-end.  Bolts of white broadcloth were unrolled to provide one long tablecloth, 10 feet wide and 225 feet long.

“One of the most agreeable events on the program was the audience the King granted the women and children of the Aramco community.  The King was seated on a dais on the upper tennis courts . . . and he met and talked through an interpreter with each of the women, several of whom brought along babes in arms.  It was a photographer’s dream situation, and David Douglas Duncan of Life obtained a marvelous picture over the King’s shoulder.  In it the King was manifestly chuckling over the antics of the children assembled below him, where they were served, as was the King, cookies and grape juice.  In conformity with local customs, the ladies were excluded from all other functions during the visit, so they relished their one opportunity to be with the King. . .

King 'Abd al-'Aziz Al Sa'ud During his visit to Dhahran, the King received “unveiled” women and their children – a gesture described as “unprecedented” by Life magazine. This woman and her child were not identified in the caption.
Life photo by David Douglas Duncan – courtesy Judy Webster Bauer

“J. MacPherson, Aramco chief officer in residence at the time . . . said the whole company community, women and children and men of all nationalities shared the duties and pleasure of true hospitality.

“His Majesty in a telegram to MacPherson from Hofuf, dated Feb. 1, 1947, eloquently expressed his feelings as guest of honor:

“The excellent care and fine hospitality shown by you and the men and officials of the company during our visit in Dhahran, as well as the efforts you made to please us and make us feel at home, have left the most excellent of impressions with us and call for an expression of thanks.  In sending our profuse thanks to you on this occasion, we hope that you will bring our appreciation to the attention of everyone.”

Ras Tanura
March 16, 1947

Dear Folks:

I seem to have gotten very much behind with my letter writing – but we haven’t heard from any of you for so long . . . Ken just brought a letter from Alice written February 16 — (Editor’s note:  This refers to Alice Jenner, Ken’s sister in Connecticut.)  I can’t imagine where the mail is being held up – I got one a while back written January 16 – it was mailed by air and arrived boat mail – someone said all the planes were grounded in New York during January, due to weather conditions – maybe that is what held it up.

King Ibn Sa'ud King Ibn Sa’ud, in front seat, tours the refinery at Ras Tanura, accompanied by Prince Faisal, finance minister.
Life photo by David Douglas Duncan – courtesy Judy Webster Bauer

The Life magazine with the King’s pictures hasn’t gotten out here yet – so I don’t know about the pictures.  You surely must have my letter by now telling you all about (his) visit and things – you won’t find Susan in any of them (the photos) for she was in the hospital then –
I have a grand set of the pictures taken during his visit and will bring them home. 

About the trip home – we still don’t know and Ken is positive it can’t be until about June, so we will just have to wait and see.

Amir Sa'ud ibn Jiluwi Amir Sa’ud ibn Jiluwi, then-governor of the Al Hasa Province in which Dhahran is located, hosted banquets for the King and by the Ruler of Bahrain during the five-day royal visit. According to William E. Mulligan, he “bought practically all available silverware and china in the Eastern Province and Bahrain for the feasts.”
Life photo by David Douglas Duncan – courtesy Judy Webster Bauer

It is surprising how many men went on home leave from here, never more to return – and about 50% of them are back – mostly because things were still at sixes and sevens at home.  (Editor’s note:  This was less than a year after the end of World War II, when the post-war American economy wasn’t yet stabilized and there was a housing shortage for men returning home to their families from overseas.)

I went to Bahrain with Zoups (Fullmer) and three others from Dhahran last week – had a perfect trip.  The last one was very rough, but this one was fine over and back.  I got a few things.  But even when we go on the fast launch and leave Khobar at 7:30 in the morning (meaning leaving Ras Tanura at least by 6) you still only have about three hours to shop, for we go with the radio man in order to be able to use the fast launch and have to come back at 12:30 with him.  The suks close at 12:30 anyway, and reopen at 4:30 – that is too late to stay.  By the time we get up to Aramco House, freshen up a bit and leave our wraps, etc., it takes time – especially with a group.  We usually split up and even so you are dashing hither and yon and seldom get much done.

Copper Tray This is believed to be the old copper tray that Mildred Webster described buying during one of her shopping trips to Bahrain. It features a “pie crust edge” and would have been large enough for making a table, which was her original plan. The tray now belongs to Judy Bauer, the Websters’ older daughter, and hangs on a wall in her Seattle home.
Photo by Dale Bauer

I did buy an old copper tray – filthy and a little bent, but just exactly what I have been looking for ever since I got here – to make a table out of.  It is the kind they pile up with rice and a hunk of sheep.  It has a pie crust edge and I am sure is going to be lovely when fixed.  (Also) got a little silk material from China and two old brass khol jars – they are about three inches tall and have a stopper…like a perfume bottle, and were used to keep their khol – or mascara – in.  Also, another one of the same sort that is a brass fish – that someone would like at home for a novelty.  Bought some oatmeal – we have been out for ages – some California canned lemon juice and some cans of parmesan cheese.  Also three packages of Madras curry for D’Souza and Chutney from Bombay – some paper napkins for a big tea Pauline King, two others and I are giving this next week.   There are some 60 women here now and we will ask all the nurses and stenos, too – get them all in and over with at once.

The weekend was positively hectic.  We were invited to a cocktail buffet from two till four – before the dance that started at four.  We didn’t get there on time and just as well – it was a lulu – dropped in … for a few dances then drove to Dhahran for our big anniversary party.  (Editor’s note:  this was to celebrate the first anniversary of all March 1946 arrivals in the camps.)  (H)ad a cocktail party there then we all went to the special dinner prepared at the mess hall (after it was closed to the public) – had a grand fried chicken dinner and a huge cake with Nursery Special on the icing – then on to the dance there for a while – on back to Fullmers’ for singing and just visiting – and drinks, of course.  Ken had to come back that night, so I came with him at 1 o’clock, leaving both children there for the night.

I drove back down there the next morning with friends and went to the Scout and Brownie Investiture, which was that afternoon – it was a lovely program and the first for the Arabian Scouts, so quite an event.  They had a big tea afterwards then I came back home with all the other Ras Tanura people on the bus – a long and tiresome trip.  I was completely pooped when we got home.  Last night, three of the girls went together and had a big picnic on the beach – way up from here for a couple visiting from Bahrain – we had a huge bonfire – scads to eat – baked ham, baked beans, hot rolls, all sorts of cookies and relishes – and beer!  Later we came back in to one of the houses where there is a piano and danced – but we came home early.  Ken had spent the day in Dhahran and was tired, and I had had enough, too . . .

I am having 15 in for tea this afternoon. . . D’Souza has the house all slicked up and all the brass polished – he is such a good guy, now that we got our little troubles settled.  I came so near firing him about two weeks ago it wasn’t funny – even though I knew I would be sunk without him.  I couldn’t put up with his actions at that time, but apparently it was all a misunderstanding.  He says he will work for us as long as we are in Arabia – but you can’t be too sure of that.  They really are quite temperamental, but I can overlook a lot in him for he is so good in all other ways.

I have been trying to get some sewing done before it gets hot, but find it hard to get around to it…if we come by boat as we hope (on Home Leave) we will need quite a few changes of every day clothes.  The girls are out of shoes – but one of the women is in Asmara now and I have ordered sandals for them from there – also for myself.  They are Italian and quite pretty, but you have to have them made.  That is where they make the most beautiful leather bags of reptile – and you can have shoes made to match.  But I am afraid of having regular shoes made – at $20.00 per without being there to try them on.  I have a lovely bag and this same woman is going to bring the skins to match so I can have some shoes made at home.  The bag is small-grained red lizard.  Ken got it for me – it is lined with grey suede . . . if any of you think you would like one, we can order from there whenever the plane is going over.  They aren’t cheap, but are much cheaper than reptile bags in the States and they are so beautifully made.  They run around $30.00 up – and as I remember when I was leaving, a real reptile leather bag was about $125.00 . . . Asmara also has beautiful antique silver that turns up once in a while – and china.  I’d love to go over there, but as with every other place from here, it is expensive to go – the plane fare per is $265.00.  By the time you transport four and stay in a hotel for a couple of weeks and buy some things it would be a rather high holiday. . . A lot of the men go there on local leave – and no doubt we will get there eventually – You have to fly, but go through Jedda on the Red Sea, which I would like to see.

We have decided to not try and make the Holy Land and Continent trip this time – conditions aren’t too good and you can’t even go to some of the places in the Holy Land.  Guess we will have to make the next contract – as it looks now the best bet is to go to Cairo and take a President Line out of Alexandria or Port Said and go right across the Atlantic.  They make a couple of stops – Naples, for one.  The luxury lines and itineraries just aren’t what you would really want yet – especially traveling with children.  You can take chances for yourself, but not for them.

You have probably read by now that we have a new president of Arabian American Oil Co. – Bill Moore – a Texas Company man.  He was out here last summer and I met him at parties a couple of times.  He is quite young, around 45 – not bad.  They have some stupendous things in the planning for here – sounds like Arabian Nights!

I am still struggling with my Arabic – and I mean struggling!  The trouble is that I don’t get the time and take the time to study properly – and you really have to.  But seems something is always coming up just at the time I want to study.  About half of the class went on this picnic Saturday night instead of going to class.  Not so hot, but was the only time they could work in the picnic, too.  So there you are.  I guess I really shouldn’t have started it – but do want to get at least a little of it.  So far, as with any other language I have had, I get the gist of it and can read and understand some, but have a hard time saying it.  I haven’t anyone to practice on.  D’Souza knows just a smattering of it and doesn’t STOOP to speaking it.  They (the servants from India) hate the Arabs and everything about them – it is mutual.

Did I tell you the girls did very well with their report cards?  Susan got all S’s – so did Judy, except for an S plus in Reading, Arithmetic and Spelling.  They have moved her up into the fourth grade and so far she seems to be doing OK.  The work is harder and that is better for her.

I must close now – the end of my four pages – we have postage rates now to send one, two, three and four pages, so that helps somewhat.

Keep writing, even if they are late in getting here – it sure is swell to get letters.

Ras Tanura
March 27, 1946

Dear Folks:

I actually was amazed when someone delivered an invitation a while ago to discover that Easter is right upon us.  I had no idea it was so soon!  St. Patrick’s Day came and went and I didn’t even know that, either.  Just goes to show you, this business of Thursday and Friday being Saturday and Sunday is sort of confusing, but no more than a lot of other things out here!

We are moving again!  I shouldn’t be so surprised, but when they sent us up here only temporarily for a few months I just crossed it off as a lot of bunk – for it so seldom works out that way – but just the same we are to go back to Dhahran – permanently.  Ken has a new job – and a new title.  He is Assistant Manager of the new Dept. of Construction – to have charge of all construction, engineering and communications for all of Aramco in Arabia – with Bill Cooper as Manager.  It is a honey of a job, but a very big one.  Ken will be busy all the time and so, of course, not at home as much, but that is the way it goes.  He is delighted and this is the big change he was told about some time ago.  I mean that there would be a big change and that his new job would be that – then things got sort of snarled up and it was put off till now.

The Coopers are leaving Saturday morning for America by plane – on a homy, homy home leave – and Ken will move to Dhahran Saturday to take over in his absence.  I won’t go till school is out the 8th of April for their (the kids’) vacation period.  We will have the house assigned to us before but there was a family in it for several months and they will redecorate it for us – that will take a little time, too.  Ken thinks I should stay here till school starts in May, but I don’t see having him eat in the mess hall there all the time.  The children enjoy the pool down there as much as the beach up here – and can do more swimming there.  So I think I shall go after school is out.

We are hoping that when Bill gets back we will be able to go on our home leave.  But there is still the problem of relieving Bob King up there while he goes on his – and if they send Bill up here to relieve Bob, Ken will have to stay.  I guess it is something to be included in the top five who have to be spread out to “take over” but will (interfere) with our home leave.  It can’t be helped, though.  Ken is in a position now where he will have to take the inconvenience of the rest, too.  It may work out and we’ll surely let you know the minute we know.  I do think Ken needs a change and a rest from this, but as far as I am concerned, I can make out.  If our leave is thrown so late – into October, say – we won’t come until next spring, for I won’t bring the children into cold weather from here and run any chances, as much fun as it would be to get home and see everyone.

There will be a lot of changes around here.  So many are packing to go home how and several will not return.  Their children are too old or in the case of two of the doctors, whey want to go home and set up their own practice.  I sure hate to lose the Floods and Phelps.  They are both excellent doctors and Phelps is a wonderful surgeon.  You can’t blame them, though – they have their own life to plan out.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot to tell you – Yemkin arrived and it is a little girl named Jane Elizabeth Crampton– the first white child to be born in Ras Tanura.  It really was a funny time.  Pauline King, Ros Crampton, Ruth Cundall and I were giving this big tea last Saturday and we had been teasing Ros, telling her a sure way to get things started was to give a party and Yemkin would be sure to make his appearance the next day.  But she went to the hospital that morning and Jane was born before noon – so we had a big topic of conversation at the tea and everyone was so happy for them.  One of the artists here made us a big announcement and we put it up on the mirror over the fireplace in the Kings’ house.

The morning the baby was born, little Rickie Flood got into some Nembutal tablets and ate six – so they had him down pumping out his tummy while his Daddy (Dr. Flood) was delivering the baby – some fun!  They couldn’t figure out what was the matter with him at first – he got dopier and dopier and couldn’t walk.  Then his mother discovered the tablets gone.

The tea was a huge success, even if we did have over 73 women.  We invited them in groups and had it from 3 to 6.  With these good houseboys it was a snap.  We didn’t even have to go near the kitchen, actually.  They kept things going beautifully and the tea table did look pretty.  We were fortunate in getting some flowers from Dhahran and I fixed a nice center arrangement.  All the food was good and it went like clock work.  I am so glad helped give it and it is over.  Otherwise, I would have to give some sort of a thing before I left.

Kings are giving a party for us Sat. night as well as (for) another of the men who is going to Dhahran to live.  There are a lot of farewell parties going on with all these people going home.  So I can see it is going to be quite a time.

I sure hate to think of moving again – and surely hope Ken can find out whether we can go home in June before we do move so I will know that to keep packed up, etc., because it will all have to be packed up again, when we leave.

I have made two dresses this week – the white islet and a seersucker suit – hopeful that I will use them on a boat.

Susan just came in from a picnic.  One of the women took a group of the smaller children down to the terminal for the morning and lunch.  Judy went on a wiener roast at the beach yesterday with the Brownie group.

Ken should be in any minute and will want to get in a little time at the beach, so I had better get myself busy around here.

It is a beautiful day – and the water is heavenly looking. Sure will miss seeing it all the time.  The air is so fresh and clean up here.

Best love to all, Mimi

Masthead Ras Tanura dormitories and mosque – January 1947.
The masthead of one of the early Arabian Sun and Flare newspapers, now known as The Arabian Sun.  In Aramco’s infancy, it was a mimeographed publication.  This masthead is labeled, “Volume 1, No. 34” and dated December 18, 1946.
Photo by Ken Slavin from his personal collection of Webster papers

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Chapter 5

A Giant Leap Toward WWIII?

25 November 2015 | 0 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Shooting down of a Russian warplane by Turkey on Tuesday could not have come at a worse time in the most volatile regions of the world. Some view this incident as a giant leap to a wider clash of prides and not necessary war.

At the time of writing these lines, the reports so far received indicated that it was a result of human error. Both sides should have been more cautious and vigilant.

One can say for sure that there will some pieces of information that will never come to the fore. Both Russian pilots have died and according to Moscow, the Russian jet was in Syrian airspace but Ankara rejected the claim saying the Russian plane had violated Turkish airspace.

In any case, it was a tragic incident caused by a number of reasons. When the Russians started air-to-ground operations in Syria, reports only mentioned airstrikes targeting “terrorist” strongholds. There was no mention of airborne radars to control and scan the area prior to the aerial bombardment, which means that Russian jets were operating in the dark.

Another question that arises here is: Why there were no search and rescue helicopters, which are also supported by air cover. And why did they paralyze the air traffic over Lebanon for days to conduct air maneuvers. Is it because they don’t have air surveillance capabilities? The Russians came to a very hot area and should have been operating fully aware of the volatility of the area. Many analysts wonder as to why Russian President Putin talked about being “stabbed in the back” when the Russian plane was shot down. Did he expect his intervention would come at no cost?

As for the Turkish air force, as far as I know if nothing had changed in the past years, they operate under the umbrella of NATO and their F-16 jets do lack some of the avionics that are available to the F-16s that are operated by the US Air Force. So, did the Turkish pilot act prematurely or the Turkish air force has very liberal rules of engagements. And what about their ties to NATO’s general rules of engagements? Turkey is part of the 28-member NATO and as far as we know that any attack on any member is considered an attack on all of them. In other words, the rules of engagements should have some common points under the control of the NATO’s governing body.

In Syria many foreign organizations are operating covertly or overtly, which makes it all the more dangerous and eventually a no-man’s land.

Now, no one knows for sure about the short-and long-term consequences of this incident. Russia and Turkey both enjoy strategic relations. Millions of Russian tourists come to Turkey and they can make a difference in the Turkish economy in addition to the current and future gas pipeline projects.

Truth be told, what happened between Russia and Turkey is not only a Russian or Turkish issue but it is an issue of global significance. The two countries can bury the hatchet and things can return to normal but the opposite is also likely to happen in a region, which is already sitting on a powder keg.

As for the technical aspect of the downing of the Russian jet, it is very important to note why the avionics and the ground controls of both Russia’s SU-24 and Turkey’s F-16 were not utilized properly in the encounters. The Turks and Russians should have known who is who in the air and where in the sky. Turkey says that the authorities had warned the Russian plane more than 10 times and then they opened fire but didn’t the Russian plane notice any electronic lock up indicating the seriousness of the situation.

As I said earlier, the article is written and submitted only few hours after the incident, but, I think grave errors were committed by the Russian pilot by not taking his mission seriously. He was either negligent or overconfident. Or maybe the Turkish pilot was trigger-happy and released his weapon prematurely.

As we have learned from history, WWI started because of one single bullet fired by a single man. WWII started as a war that was supposed to take only two months. We don’t need Russia, Turkey or any other country to add fuel to the fire in Syria. The Russian-Turkish confrontation should be used as a small step toward ending the Syrian nightmare and not to be escalated into a bloody confrontation.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. A Giant Leap Toward WWIII? reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.

New Breakthrough in Seawater Based Fracturing Fluid

25 November 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

New Breakthrough in Seawater Based Fracturing Fluid

A breakthrough field application developed by Saudi Aramco scientists, researchers and engineers will help preserve the Kingdom’s precious groundwater reserves during water intensive hydraulic and acid fracturing jobs.

Hydraulic and acid fracturing treatments involve the use of relatively large volumes of groundwater. The fracturing fluid incompatibility and flow assurance issues of seawater has prevented Aramco from using it as an alternative to fresh, low so-called toal dissolved solids (TDS) groundwater currently being used in hydraulic fracturing operations.

A major challenge of using raw seawater instead is maintaining a viscosity comparable to the one generated from fresh water-based fracturing fluids. This viscosity is important to create the fracture and carry the proppant particles that keep the fracture open.

Aramco research teams have now designed the company’s first raw seawater-based acid fracturing treatment, utilizing the in-house developed seawater-based fluid. Results of this research and the first field application concluded that seawater is a reliable and compatible alternative.

The challenges were resolved through extensive research studies and recently the first acid fracturing job was successfully carried out with fully functional in-house developed seawater-based fracturing fluid.

Besides pursuing innovative and cost-effective solutions to operational and environmental challenges the improvements are well aligned with the company’s water conservation policy.