Saudi Aramco has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Dammam for cooperation in five areas: education and learning, academic and applied research and studies, professional development, entrepreneurship, innovation and community participation.
With the goal of strengthening the growing partnership between the industrial and academic sectors in the Kingdom, the MoU will focus on enhancing the participation of women and will seek to provide female university students with the skills and professional expertise needed in the labor market.
In a ceremony held to mark the occasion, the MoU was signed by Khalid A. Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco president and CEO, and HE Dr. Abdulla Al-Rubaish, president of the University of Dammam. Al-Falih praised the university’s scientific and research achievements and the research centers that he saw during his visit and his meeting with its officials.
“We believe that the whole industrial sector in the Kingdom should make every effort to achieve integration between the educational system and the Kingdom’s targeted industrial and economic development through the exchange of scientific expertise and the application of best practices,” he said.
In the field of scientific research, the two sides will consider the possibility of launching scientific research and development programs in various critical areas and will explore available opportunities to promote the transfer of knowledge, technology, development and training through partnerships with leading academic and industrial institutions.
The MoU will also provide a basis for cooperation between the two sides in the field of entrepreneurship by establishing an incubator for projects for male and female students.
Saudi Aramco prides itself on being an enterprise that deploys the latest advanced technology in a bid to remain a global leader. This was evident at the recent Remote Sensing Conference, which provided a platform for leading global experts to discuss developments in remote sensing and its innovative applications in the energy industry.
Remote sensing is the science and art of identifying, observing and measuring an object without physical contact. It involves the detection and measurement of electromagnetic radiation of various wave lengths and strength that are reflected or emitted from distant objects.
“Saudi Aramco’s sponsorship of this first Remote Sensing Conference in the Kingdom is a testament to our support to advance this technology further,” said Abdulaziz A. Al-AbdulKarim, executive director of Information Technology. “We are seeing great potential for the use of remote sensing solutions in innovative ways such as utilizing the satellite imagery to monitor oil spills, detecting land encroachments, and in further research, locating potential reservoirs and minerals.”
The conference allowed global technology leaders in remote sensing to share their latest technical expertise with Saudi Aramco specialists and engineers. It was an opportunity for company professionals to share their challenges, requirements and views with world-known vendors to unlock the potential for enhancing Saudi Aramco’s current business processes.
Dr. Abdullah Mah from Saudi Aramco’s IT organization said that it was in 2002 that Saudi Aramco first began using remote sensing technology, through eMap. In the past 12 years, eMap’s journey has seen the service shift from offering simple base maps to assisting in mineral exploration and gas seep detection.
eMap’s remote sensing service now affects almost every aspect of the company’s business. Mineral and geological mapping, along with gas seeps, are important tools for oil and gas exploration.
The service also provides interferometry mapping, which helps maintain stability within the company’s thousands of kilometers of pipelines as well as services to help detect oil spills.
Dr. Paul Murphy from Airbus Defence and Space, explained how improving technologies in remote sensing is crucial for the pipeline planning process. He also said that the agility of sensors and growing satellite constellations provides faster acquisition times to fit in to the project life cycles. With direct access to satellites, remote sensing provides users with a 24/7 ability to acquire imagery in emergency situations.
Dr. Mohammed Al Farhan from the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology explained that remote sensing was used by researchers in a study area of Khuff gas formation exposure near Qassim. He said that using various types of remote sensing technology yielded many advantages, including reducing field visits and allowing researchers to reach places that would otherwise be unreachable.
“I would like to call upon our technology partners to look at further advancements; the need for almost real-time and higher imagery resolution has become a necessity in the business world,” said Khalid Al-Arfaj, eMap division head. “Let’s keep the dialogue open, and let’s sustain the momentum of this gathering.”
New breakthroughs in technology and focused management strategies were discussed at a major maintenance conference in Bahrain to help assure the integrity, safety and profitability of oil and gas facilities well into the future.
The third installment of the Middle East Maintenance Conference (MAINTCON) was held under the patronage of Bahrain’s recently appointed Energy Minister, HE Abdulhussain Mirza.
The four-day conference brought together regional and international experts on maintenance and reliability.
Inaugurating the conference, Mirza said that global energy demand is set to jump by 60 percent by 2040, with fossil fuels remaining the main source. Quoting OPEC’s 2014 report, the Energy Minister said that oil-related investment requirements would reach $10 trillion between 2014 and 2040 and the increased capacity is estimated at $7.3 trillion over the same period.
In this context, Mirza said, operational efficiency, robust procedures and an understanding by organizations that a focus on risk profile and mitigation will position them better in the global marketplace of the future.
“Maintenance is fundamental for the success of any industry,“ said Muhammad M. Al Saggaf, acting senior vice president of Operations and Business Services. “It is not an option; it is a requirement.”
He identified four “pillars” of a successful maintenance strategy; People; Processes and procedures; Purposeful design and technology; and collaborative Partnerships.
In Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter’s address , the Chief Technology Oversight and Coordination Officer focused on the application of new technologies that are game changers in the field of maintenance.
“At Saudi Aramco, we have always prided ourselves on our ability to solve our technical challenges and apply the latest and best technologies in the business,” he said. “Today, however, we are moving beyond incremental solutions and seeking to create the innovations that have the potential to change the industry.
“We have ambitions for our research and development to achieve global leadership by the end of the decade in energy-related technology and contribute to a flourishing knowledge economy in the Kingdom. Our goal is to become known as much for a culture of innovation and technology as for the scale and reliability of our Upstream and Downstream operations.”
Al-Khowaiter said that Saudi Aramco’s vision will involve “a quantum” leap in technology capability.
The Kingdom’s national technology agenda is also being pursued through the creation of Research and Development hubs, Al-Khowaiter said.
“In addition to upgrading our infrastructure – including facilities, labs and equipment, we are hiring world-class talent, especially in critical Upstream and Downstream research and development domains, where we need to expand our leadership presence.
“In addition, we have established satellite research centers and collaboration offices internationally in Houston, Boston, Detroit, Beijing, Paris, Delft, Aberdeen and in South Korea.”
Al-Khowaiter said that increasing safety and environmental risks should be offset by an increased use of the latest in mitigating technology. He highlighted virtualization and 3D visualization of plants to perform virtual walk-throughs and enable the viewing of equipment remotely at workstations.
Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Limited (SAMREF) celebrated its 30th anniversary this month by launching the Clean Fuels Production Project, a continuation of Saudi Aramco’s integrated strategy to develop the refining and chemicals sectors in Saudi Arabia.
The Clean Fuels Project, inaugurated in the presence of HE Musaeed Y. Al-Sulaim, governor of Yanbu’, and Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, will help meet the growing demand for highly-developed clean fuel on a domestic, regional and global level. It will reduce sulfur levels in gasoline and diesel by more than 98 percent to 10 parts per million, making the refinery an industry leader in emissions reduction.
The project manifests a decades-long partnership that has produced a number of successful joint investments inside and outside the Kingdom between Saudi Aramco and Exxon Mobile Corporation.
“We continue to apply advantaged technology that will deliver world-class products that contribute to the fuels value chain,” said Darren Woods, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation. “The successful, recent startup of the clean project illustrates the refinery’s advancements and preparations to meet global energy demands.”
Mohammad Al-Naghash, president and CEO of SAMREF, said, “The company contributes to the global competitiveness of the Kingdom by providing world-class fuels but also by creating jobs and improving and protecting the environment.”
Saudi Aramco’s refining sector strategy
SAMREF is part of Saudi Aramco’s refining and chemicals strategy, which strives to create a profitable domestic sector and to “make the company the largest and most profitable refining company in the world,” said Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, in his speech at the launching ceremony of the Clean Fuels Production Project.
Al-Falih spoke about five pillars that underpin this strategy.
“The first is to turn Saudi Aramco’s refineries into integrated industry parks where the refining process and the chemicals industry integrate and are given a major competitive edge,” he said. The second pillar is to provide these refineries with record-high refining capacity that enables them to leverage their operations and reach economies of scale.
The third pillar, he said, is to link these industrial parks with close-by downstream industries through the provision of market-ready products and feedstock for important conversion industries that will provide opportunities to maximize added-value to the economy.
The fourth pillar is to make the company’s investments in this sector a manifestation of Saudi Aramco’s commitment to give back to the community. This would be achieved by considering the needs of the surrounding community for opportunities to establish small- and medium-size enterprises that would become part of the supply chain and the various services required by the industrial parks, leading to direct and indirect job opportunities.
The fifth pillar, said Al-Falih, is to enable these communities to use technology and innovation to deliver the highest-quality products that meet top environmental standards.
There are projects that are part of Saudi Aramco’s integrated strategy for the Kingdom’s refining sector, such as SATORP in Jubail, which was constructed last year and is currently operating at full capacity; the integrated Jazan Refinery mega-project, which is currently under construction; the YASREF Refinery in Yanbu’, which compares to SATORP in size and is currently in trial operation stages; and the current expansion in Luberef for base oils.
Aramco Asia recently inaugurated Aramco Asia Singapore as part of its ongoing expansion in Asia.
The office in Singapore has been established to provide crude oil marketing, material sourcing, supply chain logistics, inspection and other engineering services.
Ahmed Al-Subaey, executive director of Marketing, Supply and Joint Venture Coordination, officiated the inauguration ceremony.
“The Asia region is the world’s largest growth center for energy demand and a major source of the materials, equipment and services that are critical to our global operations,” said Al-Subaey. “We are confident that the expansion of our office in Singapore will enable us to leverage the growth and opportunities in this region while continuing to serve our customers’ needs with the level of excellence that they have come to expect from Saudi Aramco.”
Asia is the company’s biggest crude oil and products market with 60 percent of Aramco’s crude oil being exported to Asia. Aramco Asia currently has six offices in China (Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen), Japan, Korea and Singapore.
“Asia is a key strategy and focus for us as part of our transformation efforts to become a leading global and integrated energy and chemicals company by 2020. Following the launch of Aramco offices in China and in Korea two years ago, we are very pleased to continue our expansion in Asia with the latest addition of Singapore,” said Ibrahim Al-Buainain, president of Aramco Asia.
The company’s presence in Singapore dates back to 1993, when a representative office was set up in Singapore to provide marketing services to promote sales and develop new markets for Saudi crude oil and refined petroleum products in the Far East region.
“The company is committed to Singapore and this region,” said Fouad Al Rammah, acting directory of Aramco Asia Singapore. “The inauguration of Aramco Asia Singapore underlines the importance of Singapore as the region’s premier hub for oil and gas, as well as a regional base for the Southeast Asia region.”