Saudi Aramco and Aramco Services Co. teamed up again at the 84th Annual Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) International Exposition in Denver, which is billed as the world’s largest oil, energy and mineral exhibition with nearly 1,000 presentations and more than 350 companies exhibiting.
Reinforcing a multidisciplinary approach toward advancing exploration, Saudi Aramco and ASC presented more than a dozen technical papers led by experts from Exploration, EXPEC ARC and other departments within the organization.
One of Saudi Aramco’s main areas of interest related to its Red Sea exploration efforts.
“The Red Sea is a new frontier for the company, and SEG gives us a good opportunity to meet with some industry service providers and technology companies who might be able to collaborate with Saudi Aramco,” Saleh Al-Maghlouth, manager of Exploration Operations for Saudi Aramco, said, adding that Denver served as a great host to this year’s event since it has become a prime energy hub — especially in the area of unconventionals.
Michael Zinger, manager of Red Sea Exploration for Saudi Aramco, echoed Al-Maghlouth’s sentiment, noting that the event featured sessions addressing challenges and possible solutions for issues such as trying to subsalt imaging.
With the recent expansion of Saudi Aramco’s global research and development network to now include three U.S.-based research centers in Houston, Detroit and Boston, the visibility at this conference was also important in support of recruitment and awareness to attract top-level industry talent.
Also during SEG, Yi Luo, principal professional, EXPEC ARC of Saudi Aramco, received SEG’s annual Reginald Fessenden Award for his ongoing geophysics work dating back to his 1991 paper “Wave Equation Traveltime Inversion,” which is widely used in earthquake seismology and in exploration geophysics.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Aramco EXPEC ARC Geophysics Technology team unveiled its key strategic research directions and achievements, and Panos Kelamis, chief technologist, EXPEC ARC Geophysics Technology for Saudi Aramco, led a presentation introducing three major technology initiatives: automation, multigeophysics, and bringing geophysics closer to the reservoir.
Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO,Saudi Aramcocalled for greater integration, innovation and collaboration across the region’s petrochemicals industry to unlock its potential and drive a ‘golden decade’ of economic growth and job creation.
Speaking at the 9th Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Forum, November 24,Al-Falihsaid that over the past decade “overall regional development in the petrochemicals industry has focused on the manufacturing of commodities for export by leveraging our feedstock advantage, economies of scale, and extensive industrial infrastructure,”adding that “we have tended to grow horizontally rather than through vertical integration.”Al-Falihexplained that“the existing model will not realize our full potential because the global industry landscape is changing rapidly and creating stronger competition.”
Al-Falihaddressed fourkeyimperatives that would further unlock the region’s potential in the petrochemicals industry:
Developing a balanced portfolio of chemical feed-stocks to drive flexible economic growth across the sector;
Upgrading the region’s existing chemicals infrastructure to build world-class capability and accelerate innovation;
Multiplying the number of industry participants byencouraging a vibrant small to medium-sized enterprise sector andstrengtheningentrepreneurship; and
Applyinggreater integrationand critical mass to tackle the region’s infrastructure, technology and skills challenges.
Al-Falihsaidthat harnessing the region’s competitive advantages would help driveeconomic diversification into high-value manufacturing sectors andcould createnew, high-skilledjobs to sustain the region’s growth.He added thatdecisions madetoday and tomorrow will determine the region’slong-term prospects in the global economy. “Working together and acting in our common interests, the region’s chemicals industry has the ability totransform the entire regionfrom abase ofnatural resourcesto a knowledge-based economy,”he said.
Al-Falih highlighted the region’s ‘youth bulge’ – a demographic shift of a new generation of men and women- and the need to embrace and engage their talents as the region’spetrochemical industry evolves. Hesaid:“Over the long-term our youth population will prove to be the region’s single greatest competitive advantage.Companies should tap their creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and love of technology as part of their strategy to drive growth.Energetic, wired for technology,andwith an appetite for constant learning, our youth can make the difference in propelling our collective industry forward,”he said.
In conclusion, Al-Falihcalled upon the region’s petrochemical industry leaders towork towards realizing a‘golden decade’ of economic growth and job creation, adding that to achieve this “we need more effective integration, innovation and collaboration across theGulf petrochemicals industry.It is time to makethevisiona reality byredoublingour commercial and technological collaboration and acceleratingour combined pace of change.
Technology and talent are the key to transforming industry challenges into opportunities was the key message from Amin H. Nasser, Saudi Aramco senior vice president of Upstream, at the opening ADIPEC 2014, the third largest energy conference in the world.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) 2014 marked its 30th anniversary.
“The best way to protect oneself from, or prepare for, the future is to create it,” said Nasser during the session, which mirrored the conference’s theme of “Challenges and Opportunities for the Next 30 Years.”
Nasser went on to look at how innovation and leadership challenges can be recast as opportunities and what the future can look like as a result of this.
“Thanks to technology, we’re on the brink of a golden age,” he said, adding that global supply was rising with unconventional oil and gas coming onstream and estimates of recovery levels rising. Resources that only a few years ago were inaccessible or unrecoverable are now being unlocked, he noted.
However, this expansion came at a price, and cost escalation was a major concern, Nasser stressed. Describing a triangle in which the easily accessible resources are at the top, he said the industry is now moving toward the base of the triangle where the amount of resources is greater but requires much more sophisticated technology to extract and produce.
“It is crucial that we all work together to reduce costs,” Nasser said, adding that advancing technology will become a driver for further developments. “We must invest in technology as an enabler of innovation.”
The long view
Nasser observed that although the pace of technology advancement is often dizzying, to truly invest wisely and achieve the best results, leaders industrywide must focus on the long view and commit to investing in technologies that will not only help the industry to survive in the future, but which will also enable it to thrive. He noted that being in an industry that can be volatile at times makes it important to stay the course.
“The market is going to grow,” said Nasser. “We must be ready with the right people, the right training, the right technologies and the right capital program.”
Unconventionals: The case for success
Operational Excellence will be the key driver for success when it comes to developing unconventional fuels, and those who are able to control costs most efficiently will succeed, said Ibraheem M. Assa’adan, executive director of Exploration at Saudi Aramco, at a session titled “Unconventional Resources, Challenges and Opportunities: Focus on the Middle East.”
Assa’adan noted that the Kingdom has significant unconventional opportunities in various locations around Saudi Arabia, from the Rub’ al-Khali in the south to the Eastern Province to the Kingdom’s north, and that exploiting these tight gas and shale gas deposits is crucial to help meet ever increasing power and water demands domestically. As Saudi Aramco begins to ramp up its well-planned unconventional development, it is working to develop these resources as economically as possible.
Research, technology and communication
One of the key drivers to successful R&D efforts industrywide is a commitment to research and strategic global collaboration, said Abdulaziz O. AlKaabi, chief technologist of Reservoir Engineering Technology at Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center.
AlKaabi, who was part of a five-person panel discussing “Research and Technology Development,” said that considering its unique position, Saudi Aramco views R&D as a long-term investment. As such, technology is an integral part of the company’s strategy to meet the long-term challenges.
He also stressed the need to understand and decipher challenges at a very fundamental level; bottom-up. “In my opinion, success in reservoir R&D will depend on how well we are able to describe and manipulate the reservoir system at the micro, nano and even molecular and atomic scales,” said AlKaabi, adding that understanding fundamentals is essential. “In fact, new fundamentals and approaches that are in the essence of hydrocarbon extraction will need to be defined.”
A strong presence
In addition to the three high profile speakers, Saudi Aramco — as it has at previous ADIPEC sessions — had a strong presence in the event, from the executive plenary, panel and technical sessions, to its exhibition.
The company’s participation in the event included more than 25 papers by Saudi Aramco Upstream professionals who were accepted for presentation through the various technical sessions.
Also, the company’s “Women Development Program” was recognized as a finalist for the “Empowerment of Women in the Oil and Gas Industry” category during the opening night’s ADIPEC Awards session.
Saudi Aramco has released the tenders for seven engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts for the Khurais Program.
The Khurais Arabian Light Crude Increment is an onshore oil field development, which saw the field initially discovered in 1957. By 2009, KhCPF had a processing capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of Arabian Light crude oil, 320 million standard cubic feet per day (scfd) of associated gas and 80,000 bpd of natural gas liquids (NGLs).
With an eye toward the future, a new project was initiated to increase the crude production of the facility to 1.5 million bpd, making KhCPF one of the largest oil producing facilities in the world. Planning for the new Khurais increment project began in 2012 and the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) was completed in May 2014.
The current Khurais Program involves the development of the Lower Fadhli field and production to KhCPF, and includes the construction of new processing facilities to handle an additional capacity of 300,000 bpd of Arabian Light crude oil, 143,000,000 scfd of associated gas and 34,000 bpd of NGL. To accommodate this increase, a new gas-oil separation plant (GOSP), a crude stabilization unit and a gas train will be installed at the KhCPF.
Two gas turbine driven pump trains will also be installed to provide treated seawater injection for reservoir pressure support.
To optimize energy efficiency and make the plant partially self-reliant with power, a 165 megawatt co-generation unit will also be installed. About 45 percent of the power generated will come from recovering waste heat from the gas turbine hot exhaust flue gases that otherwise would have been vented into the atmosphere.
To comply with Saudi government directives to conserve groundwater, one of the largest membrane technology-based facilities within Saudi Aramco will be installed to use seawater to produce water for process use and refined seawater for injection and enhanced oil recovery production testing.
The Khurais Program will also see the installation of a grass-roots satellite GOSP to debottleneck and restore 200,000 bpd of production capacity from the Abu Jifan and Mazalij fields. To support the Khurais Program, 650 kilometers of pipeline will be installed to transport crude oil, gas, NGL and seawater.
The tender for the construction activities of the plant was awarded to Italian company Saipem last month. Currently, the project has broken ground and site preparation for the construction areas is underway. Project completion is slated for 2017.
Saudi Aramco had a strong presence at the recent 19th annual Dammam Charity Run, which saw more than 10,000 runners between the ages of 15 and 60 years participate in a 5-kilometer run through the Corniche area.
As a platinum sponsor for the event that emphasized health and fitness, Saudi Aramco assisted with virtually every aspect of the fun run, providing more than 150 volunteers, and contributed prizes for the various age groups. This year’s event motto was “Respect for Public Property.”
Participation was diverse with people of different nationalities taking part in the charity run. The event included an initial race for people with special needs, followed by the second wave of runners.
One of the many Aramcons who completed the 5-kilometer run was Khalid A. Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco’s president and CEO. After the race, he thanked the organizers and volunteers for their efforts in ensuring the success of the event and urged all participants to continue the journey to living a healthy lifestyle.
Company volunteers helped with registration, provided on course support and also spread health awareness messages, stressing the importance of exercise and environmental awareness. Saudi Aramco also played a prominent logistics role in the event, providing buses to transport participants from assembly points to the race site and back.