Aramco Highlights Technology Innovation at ATCE

8 October 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Aramco Highlights Technology Innovation at ATCE

A team of Aramco engineers, scientists and researchers highlighted the company’s exploration and production accomplishments at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) that continue to bolster the company’s strong recovery rates — some of the highest in the industry.

The company gave nearly 20 presentations during the show’s technical program and within the Saudi Aramco exhibit booth. Taken together, they painted a picture of progress and innovation that is optimizing reservoir performance while protecting the environment.

New technologies — including those used to enhance subsurface imaging and well production — are emerging and capturing industry attention. The company is focused on bringing geophysics closer to the reservoir to improve data fidelity and resolution.

Papers presented during ATCE included “Water Content Effects on Dynamic Elastic Properties of Organic-rich Shale” representing work from the Aramco Research Center–Houston in collaboration with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The paper addressed water content or saturation as a key parameter in determining the strength of shales.

Also among the presentations were: “Proving the Concept of Unconventional Gas Reservoirs in Saudi Arabia through Multistage Fractured Wells,” “Automated Workflow for Real-Time Reservoir Management in a Large Carbonate Field,” “New Insights about Acid Fracture Conductivity at Laboratory Scale,” and “Dynamic Water Injection Profiling in Intelligent Wells Using Distributed Acoustic Sensor with Multimode Optical Fibers.”.

Additionally, the company participated in the SPE workshop series, providing a class on how to write a good technical paper.

Presentations at the exhibit booth highlighted our R&D centers, showcasing research advancements in the upstream and downstream sectors.

During the expo, Saudi Aramco and Aramco Services Co. representatives met with visitors interested in learning more about the company’s technology advances, job openings, and business opportunities.

SPE rotates this conference yearly between the Americas and other international regions, drawing participants from about 70 countries. Next year’s SPE ATCE will be held in Dubai.

Benefiting from the Vacuum in Syria

8 October 2015 | 0 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

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

On Jan. 16, 2012, I wrote an article that was published in this paper titled, “Russia, bridesmaid, but, never the bride.” Now, Russia is simply on the road to say to the world, yes, they are here in Syria and they are a military force that the world has to reckon with.

Many of the Russian old guard are still swallowing their pride; they never forgot their Soviet Empire breaking down in front of their eyes, as also their helplessness to save it. What is more humiliating was seeing their former allies and former members of the Warsaw Pact joining their former western rival, NATO. In other words, Russia in reality has no allies except shaky states such as Syria. But, many in the Russian old guard were determined to bring back their glory. But, how and at what cost?

After the Soviet Union’s breakdown, Russia went into a period of political uncertainties, economic recession and even went through a cycle of violence and coup attempts. Years later, Russia’s credibility was put to the test when Yugoslavia collapsed. And the Russians saw their historical ally, the Serbs being bombarded by the West without even a resolution from the United Nations and the Russians stood by without the ability to help their ally.

As a matter of fact, Russian ships in the vicinity of the NATO operation area were not even capable of using high speed manoeuvres due to shortage of fuel and the Russian forces didn’t have any clear and decisive rules of engagement.

Now, the Russians are far away from their old international influence. Russia at times was losing an edge in major strategic, economic and political decisions. Even their nuclear facilities were not getting the proper care and many of their old nuclear submarines were becoming a threat to northern European countries such as Sweden due to nuclear leaks in their reactors. So, what is the easiest, safest and cheapest way the Russian can take to be back in the game?

When the Arab Spring began in Syria, many analysts expected that there will be swift intervention either from the West to speed up the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad or a Russian intervention to help their ally to fight any changes in the country.

The West under the US leadership stood by and the American administration kept drawing many red lines that Assad was challenged to cross. But, he continued to cross every American red line. There was no American response.

The Russians were also hesitant and subsequently they pulled their fleet from their bases in Syria when the US made a serious threat to interfere if Assad used chemical weapons or continued using explosive barrels. Bashar eventually used both chemical and explosive barrels against his people. US still stood by and nothing happened. Now, the Russians are coming.

After four years of chaos and civil war in Syria; after hundreds of thousands of Syrians being killed and many more were wounded; after millions of Syrians being displaced; and after a total destruction of the country, the Russians took it as a golden opportunity to get back to the international arena and regaining their lost glory by intervening in Syria. And they are doing it the cheap way.

Attack as many targets in Syria and regardless of how many will be dead and injured, Russia knows that no one will pay attention. The Syrians are so wounded, now they don’t feel any pain. But, sure the Russian actions were admired by many people and think that finally, someone is capable of challenging the Americans. In these Russian military operations, it is only the Syrian blood being spilled.

To be honest, no matter what reasons are behind the Russian intervention, no one for sure knows about the outcome; or how the Syrians, or the regime will benefit from it. But, at the end, Russia that took the initiative will most likely stand benefitted from the military adventure.

The Russians have finally found a way to challenge the Americans, and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hailed as a decisive world leader. In other words, Russia has nothing to lose, regardless of the outcome. Syria, which remained an ally of Russia has never had any strategic friendship with the West. So for Russians are legitimately on track to come to the aid of their ally. But why now?

Ironically, the former Soviet Union never came to the aid of their Arab ally when the US was involved. The Arab world saw this in 1967 when Moscow stood still and again in 2003 when Moscow sent just words of mouth to the Iraqis when it was invaded by the West.

Russia intervened in Syria because they saw a broken and fractured country that they can use to regain their lost glory.

Russia didn’t come to fight Daesh or any terrorist groups. Russia is there because the West wasn’t there. Russia this time wants to be the bride and not the bridesmaid.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Benefiting from the Vacuum in Syria reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.

I’ve Been Riding on the Railroad

8 October 2015 | 1 comment | Travel & Leisure | by

I’ve Been Riding on the Railroad

A recent round-trip train ride between Seattle, Washington and Chico, California brought to mind some memorable past train rides in Russia while impressing me with how much Amtrak has upgraded and enhanced train travel in the U.S. in recent years. Those of you familiar with the comforts and convenience of traveling on Eurorail or taking the Chunnel train between London and Paris might be surprised by how far train travel has advanced in the U.S. in recent years. That was my immediate reaction, after concluding my recent trip. How sharply that contrasts with my adventures traveling by train in Russia.

A fundamental feature of Russian life is travel by train. At the close of the Soviet era, their railway ministry ranked as the largest corporate entity in the world (according to the World Bank), dwarfing in size the economies of many small countries. With an underdeveloped highway system, huge distances to cover, and not a single paved road stretching uninterrupted east to west, north to south, border to border, Russia depended (and still depends) on its rail and aviation networks perhaps more than any other country.

My first train trip in what was then still the Soviet Union came in June 1989 when, as part of a six-person business delegation of Americans, I rode a night train from Tallinn, Estonia to Riga, Latvia through farmlands and hardwood forests aglow in a twilight that lingered till dawn, never entirely fading. Four of us shared one coach-class compartment that evening, where the porters dumped our luggage haphazardly inside, as though they had been shoveling lumps of coal, completely blocking us from entering.

I’ve Been Riding on the Railroad

My train travel in Russia often consisted of overnight runs between Moscow and Leningrad/St. Petersburg. I would board a train in one city minutes before midnight and disembark in the other minutes before breakfast, sleeping for as many hours as I could manage in between. The preferred train to take on this route was the Krasnaya Strela (Red Arrow). The coaches were nicer, the service better, the security less of a concern, though still a matter you needed to pay close attention to. Accounts of crimes committed on Russian trains were regular news items in those days.

One story told of hoodlums wearing gas masks robbing an entire coach full of passengers, knocking them out by pumping sleeping gas into their compartments. Knowledgeable travelers took certain precautions as a result. Ideally, you reserved an entire compartment for yourself and barred the door behind you before you went to sleep. Traveling most often on a tight budget, I frequently shared my compartment with one, two, or three other people, men and woman alike, all of them total strangers. Part of the mystery of train travel in Russia was discovering who your traveling companion(s) for the night would be.

On a trip to Moscow in May 1992, I boarded the Red Arrow in St. Petersburg. Lifting my mattress, which was hinged to the wall, I stowed my luggage in the cavity beneath. Satisfied that all was safe, I settled on my bed and began reading a book, anticipating what sort of roommate fate would bring me this night. Hearing the compartment door slide open, I looked up to see a short Chinese woman of indeterminate age wearing quilted, olive-drab Mao garb, complete with a soft fabric hat sporting a large red star, sliding her suitcase onto the bed across from me.

She turned my way, bowed, and introduced herself in impeccable Queen’s English as a professor of astronomy from Beijing returning home from a conference in St. Petersburg. “I have a ticket for tomorrow’s Aeroflot flight from Moscow,” she informed me. At the end of a cordial conversation, she politely excused herself a few minutes later and began studying a technical paper in English.

When it came time to turn off the lights, she removed a wine cork and a length of wire from her purse. Moving to the door, she jammed the cork between the latch and handle and wired it into place. No intruder was going to interrupt her sleep or mine that night. Task completed, she turned, nodded to me and and solemnly returned to her bed. Nodding again, she indicated with a sideways twist of her head that I should look away, undressed, and crawled beneath her covers.

An hour past dawn, we took turns washing up in one of our carriage’s unisex, one-person toilets and together sipped tea with lemon slices and sugar served by the female conductor. We shook hands, bowed, and wished each other safe journeys as the train pulled into Leningradskaya Vokzal in Moscow.

On numerous other train trips in Russia, I shared living space with a colorful cross section of humanity. In October 1998, in a sardine can-like steerage class compartment traveling from Khabarovsk to Komsomolsk-na-Amur in the Russian Far East, my roommate was a dapper Russian thirty-ish named Yevgeniy who, upon learning that I was an American on my way to meet with officials from the local aircraft manufacturer, tried to sell me however many Sukhoi fighter planes I wanted. “I get you very good price,” he promised.

On my return trip to Khabarovsk, Yevgeniy was in the same coach as I, berthed in a nearby compartment, and made a second, more earnest attempt to peddle planes. Does he mean to do business, or is he an security agent from the FSB trying to entrap me? I wondered to myself. One possibility seemed as likely as the other, and experience had taught me that well-dressed Russian men speaking excellent English often worked for the KGB or, perhaps in this case, the FSB, the post-Soviet era successor to the KGB. Once again, I passed on the Sukhois. Undeterred by a second rejection, in rapid succession Yevgeniy offered me tanks, munitions, and a submarine, all at what he assured me were bargain prices. I passed on each of these as well. Were nuclear weapons next? I excused myself and went to sleep before finding out.

My recent train rides between Seattle and Chico lacked the drama of those Russian adventures, all for the better.

I’ve Been Riding on the Railroad

Boarding my southbound train around eight o’clock in the morning in Seattle’s meticulously restored King Street Station in the Pioneer Square area, not far from Century Link Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks NFL football team, I plopped myself down in a comfortable reclining business class seat, plugged in my iPad, hooked up with the on-board Wi-Fi, and settled in for the day. With thoughtful and courteous attendants catering to my every need, I was able to work and relax at the same time, with everything I needed near at hand. What a contrast that was with my normal long-distance domestic travel by automobile or plane, dealing with crazy drivers and crowded airports!

Wholly absent on Amtrak was anything approximating the challenges of my days of traveling Russia by train—no overcrowded compartments, no would-be arms traders trying to sell me weapons, no possibility of being gassed or robbed.

I’ve Been Riding on the Railroad

Come noon time, in the adjacent lounge car, I ordered lunch from a tasteful menu selection and struck up pleasant conversations with other passengers, all of whom seemed as pleased as I was with their travel experience. Midway through Oregon, an informative wine-tasting offering a wide selections of vintages from the state’s vintners added an unexpected new dimension to my adventure.

On my return to Seattle, I opted to upgrade to a sleeper, which only added to the richness of my travel experience. I was able to get a great deal of work done, enjoy several more tasty meals and catch my 40 winks in comfort. By the time I disembarked at King Street Station that evening, I had decided that this would not be the last time I would ride the rails to distant places rather than fly the friendly skies or cruise the highways and byways.

Someday I hope to ride the fabled Orient Express and perhaps, if I’m really feeling adventurous, the Transiberian. Until then, I’ll gladly accept excursions on Amtrak as an affordable and convenient alternative.

Dhahran Women’s Toastmasters Club Marks a Year with Awards, Ceremony

8 October 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Members of the Dhahran Women's Toastmasters Club's group gather together to celebrate the club's first year in operation.

What happens when you take 47 women from at least 18 various nations, mix in their speeches of five to seven minutes in length, and stir in their leadership projects? You have a formula for a Toastmasters club of extraordinarily high caliber — one that has achieved the President’s Distinguished Club award within one year of its inception led by a newly cast Distinguished Toastmaster and president Akanke Abdul-Khaaliq. And to top it off, the Dhahran Women’s Toastmasters Club’s (DWTC) membership was active for only 10 months of its one-year cycle.

The (DWTC) held its first annual year-end event at Al Khaleej Hall in Dhahran.

While guests arrived and mingled, sergeant-at-arms Sadia Jamil (who was awarded the Advanced Leadership Bronze certificate and Toastmaster of the year) opened the program. The varied program, emceed in the first part by Magda Daifi and Sayeeda Waheed, was designed to echo a mosaic, with an assortment of short presentations and speeches. Before the break, the audience heard inspirational messages from Nuha Hashem, vice president at education and president-elect, Akanke Abdul-Khaaliq, Distinguished Toastmaster and president, and Bilquis Ahmed, all of whom shared insight into the achievements of the club.

The event included the DWTC’s District Awards, which were presented by Dr. Soliman Almadi, Division M governor, and included two congratulatory video messages from Joey Villanueva, District 79 governor and Distinguished Toastmaster, and his wife, Maria Teresa Olarte-Villanueva, also a Distinguished Toastmaster.

After the break, Tirina Amabeoku, newly elected sergeant at arms, opened the next portion of the program. Abdul-Khaaliq and Hashem presented member education awards, acknowledging the hard work put in by individual members who earned their Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership certificates.

The audience was treated to an impromptu speaking challenge (known as table topics in Toastmasters lingo) hosted by Priya Abraham, who prepared various questions on the topic of “journeys.” Several adults and youth volunteered responses to these questions, with 12-year-old Yahya Kharbat and 9-year-old Zoya Waheed receiving standing ovations for their responses. Additionally, Daifi and Karla Freiheit introduced each of their High Performance Leadership projects of publishing a book of memorable DWTC speeches and A Mosaic of Journeys art project.

Next, Samantha Horseman, guest of honor, administrator of wellcare (Preventive Medicine) at JHAH, and president of the Institute for Health & Productivity Management, shared her thoughts on the role wellness plays in the lives of women. This served as a cogent reminder to lead healthy lifestyles to have the energy needed to be active members of our respective clubs.

Sprinkled throughout the second part of the program, Samantha Jackson presented door prizes. Some audience members were lucky enough to find a special sticker at their seat, and upon claiming their prizes, they were invited to share their thoughts in an impromptu speaking moment. These gifts were just one small gesture to the about 70 guests, many of whom were family and friends, acknowledging the roles they play in the success of club members.

This second part of the program also included a presentation of special awards, created by DWTC as a fun way to recognize achievement, and the “Handing Over the Gavel” ceremony conducted by Mazen Al Sadat, Area 20 governor. Abdul-Khaaliq and Hashem closed the program with their moving final remarks about their experiences with starting the club, chartered on June 30, 2014.

As the saying goes, many hands make light work. The “hands” that contributed to “A Mosaic of Journeys” and acknowledged by Toastmaster Najat Abu-Haliqa in her heartfelt Expression of Thanks, are too many to list here. All contributions from behind the scenes made this first annual year-end celebration a grand success, which is a testament to the vitality and strength of the Dhahran Women’s Toastmasters Club and all of its cherished members.

Saudi Aramco Receives Prestigious SPE Awards

7 October 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Saudi Aramco Receives Prestigious SPE Awards | Aramco ExPats

Saudi Saudi Aramco had an exceptionally strong showing at last week’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) — the flagship event of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE).

The company participated in wide-ranging technical presentations and our contributions to SPE and its mission were recognized with several prestigious SPE awards and recognitions.

This year’s conference witnessed much energy and debate among attendees, beginning with a lively discussion at the opening session titled “2040: The Journey and the Destination — Diverse Perspectives”, with panelists speaking about the industry’s strength and resilience in the face of a cyclical market downturn.

Oil and gas professionals are indeed a tenacious group, the panelists noted. “This is the time when we do our best work. We adapt, strengthen, and innovate our way right through these challenges”, said 2015 SPE president and Statoil executive Helge Hove Haldorsen.

Panelists agreed that these surges of creative genius — formed out of necessity — have shown over time to fundamentally change the industry for the better.

Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal

Amin H. Nasser, president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco, was honored with the Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal. The medal, which is given by The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, recognizes an individual for distinguished achievement in mining administration, including metallurgy and petroleum. Recipients of this top honor are automatically elected as a Distinguished Member of SPE.

Accepting the award for Nasser was Khaled A. Al Buraik, vice president of Saudi Aramco Petroleum Engineering and Development, who said that he was privileged to represent Nasser. Al-Buraik currently serves as a director at-large for SPE International.

SPE Distinguished Membership Award

Khalid A. Zainalabedin | Aramco ExPats

This honor is given to SPE members who have attained eminence in the petroleum industry, the academic world, or who have made significant contributions to SPE.

A long-standing member, Zainalabedin’s regional and international contributions to SPE have benefited the industry. In particular, he has reached out to young professionals in the field, helping them advance their skill and knowledge, and attain certification through SPE. He has been actively involved in the SPE Saudi Arabia Section (SPE-SAS), serving as section chairman, treasurer and secretary; and overseeing its program and membership committees.

Young Member Outstanding Service Award

Yousif M. Al-Tahan | Aramco ExPats

This award recognizes contributions to, and leadership in, the community, as well as SPE, the profession, and the industry, by a member under age 36.

Al-Tahan has been extensively involved in SPE, serving as the young professional vice chairman, publication officer, and chairman of the SPE-SAS. In 2011, he won the Regional Young Member Outstanding Service Award. He has also served on multiple technical committees to support SPE conferences in the Middle East.

President’s Award for Section Excellence

Bandar A. Al-Khamies | Aramco ExPats

A President’s Award for Section Excellence was presented to Bandar A. Al-Khamies, 2014–2015 chairman of the SPE Saudi Arabia Section and YLAB coordinator at Saudi Aramco.

“We are very proud to have received this international and prestigious recognition,” Al-Khamies said, adding that it commemorates the many dedicated volunteers who worked hard so the section could achieve such success.

“Century Club” Status

Suliman M. Azzouni | Aramco ExPats

Members of the Saudi section also earned “Century Club” status for outstanding SPE recruitment: Suliman M. Azzouni, Sulaiman Alhassan Al Majdi, Ahmad Mohammad Alabduljabbar, and Ali Mousa. The section added 1,900 new members between June 2014 and June 2015.