Saudi Aramco showcases its integrated downstream technology strategy and portfolio at the 10th annual Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) forum, taking place in Dubai, UAE from November 17 – 19.
The Annual Forum, GPCA’s flagship event, is the leading networking event for the petrochemicals and chemicals industry in the Arabian Gulf region. During the three day forum, delegates from some of the world’s biggest petrochemicals and chemical producers, share their perspectives on current industry issues. Since the first meeting in 2006, GPCA annual forum attendance has grown steadily year after year along with the reputation of the event in the global chemical industry.
Warren Wilder, VP Chemicals, Saudi Aramco said: “GPCA is a great focal point for our regional industry. In challenging economic times, our industry must work even harder to unlock its growth potential. Across the region and beyond, we now need to embed the collaboration and partnerships necessary for diversification into high-value manufacturing sectors that will sow the seeds of our long-term success.”
Saudi Aramco’s Integrated Energy Strategy
With a global refining capacity of 5.4million bpd, Saudi Aramco has diversified its portfolio to become an efficient, integrated global energy and chemicals company operating across the entire petroleum and chemicals value-chain.
Saudi Aramco’s global footprint in chemicals is well established, having adopted an international partnership and joint venture approach to help build a portfolio that encompasses crude supply, refining, petrochemicals and lubes, right through to closely-linked marketing and distribution channels, backed by world-class technology and innovation.
In addition, Saudi Aramco’s downstream strategy is about the conversion of petrochemical commodities and consequently spurring growth in new industries to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification and competitiveness. Localization of Saudi Arabia’s energy sector will enhance the Kingdom’s overall competitiveness, helping accelerate industrial growth across many industry sectors and creating thousands of new high-skill, high-value manufacturing jobs for the Kingdom’s growing population.
Rapidly Expanding Global Footprint
Saudi Aramco’s world-class, integrated chemicals complex projects are changing the landscape of the global petrochemicals industry.
In 2011 Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemicals established the Sadara Chemical Company. At Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, Sadara is constructing the world’s largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase, with 26 integrated world-scale manufacturing plants that will produce more than three million tons of products every year. At a total investment of about US$20 billion, Sadara is on schedule for initial start-up by the end of 2015 and will be the first chemical complex in the GCC region to use naphtha as part of its feedstock, leading to new specialty chemicals plants and new businesses in the Kingdom.
In August 2014, the crude oil throughput of the Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP), a joint venture refinery with Total located in Jubail on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, reached the facility’s full design capacity of 400,000 barrels per day. The refinery has a comprehensive array of advanced mild, distillate and fluid catalytic cracker technology to convert heavy crude oil that is especially hard to process into high-value-added low-sulfur gasoline, diesel and jet fuel products, as well as an annual production of 1 million tons of paraxylene, benzene and high-purity propylene.
A joint venture with Asia’s largest refiner, Sinopec, YASREF is a 400,000 barrels per day refinery designed to process Arabian heavy crude oil to produce premium transportation fuels such as gasoline and ultra-low-sulfur diesel, as well as liquefied petroleum gases, benzene, sulfur and petroleum coke. YASREF delivered its first shipment of clean diesel fuel in mid-January 2015.
Work is well under-way on Phase II of the Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company (Petro Rabigh) complex expansion, with Sumitomo Chemical Company of Japan. This expansion will add specialty ethylene and propylene-based products by de-bottlenecking the existing steam cracker. The project will also enable conversion of 4,000 kilotons per year of naphtha into higher value aromatic products.
In addition, Saudi Aramco’s Fujian Refinery and Petrochemical Company joint venture in China – with ExxonMobil, Sinopec and the Fujian provincial government – successfully processes Saudi Arabian sour crude oil and produces high quality polymer products which are marketed in China by a Saudi Aramco affiliate. Meanwhile Saudi Aramco’s stake in S-Oil’s integrated refinery and petrochemical complex, South Korea’s third largest, has strengthened the company’s foothold in Asia.
The recently announced joint venture between Saudi Aramco and the German specialty chemicals company, Lanxess, which is expected to close in the first half of 2016, is seen by Saudi Aramco as a milestone in its pioneering journey to further extend its globally-integrated downstream expansion. Lanxess has a world-class synthetic rubber and elastomer products capability and many of the world’s largest tire and automotive-parts manufacturers are already counted as customers.
The JV has a compelling industrial logic for both parties, and Saudi Aramco expects to provide the new JV entity with financial stability, additional scale and resources, continued investment in technology, unrivalled opportunities to integrate with petrochemical facilities, and potential cost-competitive access to reliable feedstock supplies.
Interestingly, the Lanxess green tires technology which reduces fuel consumption will complement Saudi Aramco’s two-pronged fuel / engine R&D strategy that is focused on increasing the mileage efficiency of vehicles, and reducing pollutant emissions of future engines.
Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin H. Nasser, center, inaugurates the Aramco Research Center in Detroit. He is joined by, from left, Ahmad Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer of Saudi Aramco; Mayor Bob Gatt, City of Novi; Nasser; Nasser Al Nafisee, vice president of Corporate Affairs of Saudi Aramco; Basil Abul-Hamayel, president of Aramco Services Company; second row from left, David Cleary, leader of the Aramco Research Center-Detroit; Ashraf AlTahini, director of Research & Development, Aramco Services Company; Ammar Al-Nahwi, manager of the Saudi Aramco Research & Development Center; Abdulmohsen Al-Mukhaild, president of Saudi Petroleum International, Inc.; Khalid Alnaji, president of Saudi Refining, Inc.; and Amer Amer, chief fuels technologist at the Saudi Aramco Research & Development Center.
The Aramco Research Center-Detroit was inaugurated today as one of three U.S.-based research and development (R&D) centers aimed at expanding the global research capabilities of Saudi Aramco, the leading global integrated energy and chemicals company. The new facility – located in Novi, Mich., and owned and operated by U.S. subsidiary Aramco Services Company – further strengthens the company’s global fuels research program with the goal of promoting the development and adoption of efficient, sustainable and affordable transport solutions for the future.
Aramco’s fuels technology program is focused on reducing the overall environmental impact, cost and complexity of both current and future fuel-engine systems. With a global refining presence, Aramco brings a unique perspective into how fuels can be designed and matched to engines for higher performance and lower emissions. A planned outcome of Aramco’s research is to generate vehicle and fleet demonstrations to showcase the benefits of novel fuel/engine systems.
“Fuels technology is a critical area of research for Saudi Aramco where we are leveraging on our leading position in integrated oil and gas production and refining to invest in innovative solutions that will significantly improve efficiency and lower emissions from the (production) well-head to the (car) wheel,” said Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco, who led today’s inauguration of the center. “Opening a research center in Detroit demonstrates our commitment to enabling meaningful impacts and the Motor City gives us an ideal platform to bring the talent of Aramco’s researchers together with great collaboration partners in the heart of the U.S. automotive industry.”
Specific areas of research being conducted at Aramco’s new Detroit center include fuel combustion and emissions, technology integration and strategic transport studies. The research center is tasked with developing, demonstrating and showcasing low-carbon-footprint transportation technologies, in support of reducing CO2 emissions from transport sources.
“Aramco’s presence here contributes to our community’s tremendous growth and vibrant spirit in support of the automotive industry,” said City of Novi Mayor Bob Gatt. “Novi has become an attractive location for research, technology and service providers.”
The 50,000-square-foot Detroit research center is equipped with four state-of-the-art engine dynamometer labs, and in mid-2016, a vehicle integration lab featuring a chassis dynamometer for evaluating engine performance and identifying solutions to all types of system integration challenges. This includes ensuring that new technologies will meet vehicle performance and emissions specifications in a wide range of certification cycles under cold (20°F) and hot (120°F) conditions.
Supporting facilities include a prototype engine build lab, fabrication shop, vehicle soak room, engine start-cart lab, and associated vehicle integration facilities.
Substantial flexibility has been built into the lab’s capabilities surrounding fuel design, fuel procurement and specialty fuel distribution, including providing 12 independent fuel lines to the labs—which allows back-to-back advanced fuel testing and blending. The facility’s research capacity encompasses very small engines such as a single-cylinder research engine to 1,000 horsepower heavy-duty on-road and stationary engines.
“Aramco’s fuels research program is about contributing our expertise to finding forward-thinking ideas and unlocking the potential to develop new transport solutions,” said Saudi Aramco Chief Technology Officer Ahmad Al Khowaiter. “Fuels research is an excellent fit in our global R&D program looking at energy-industry challenges. Researchers draw on a network of company talent, industry partners and academia from around the world.”
Aramco’s global fuels research network encompasses Aramco’s Research & Development Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; a partnership with the Clean Combustion Research Center at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia; and the Aramco Fuel Research Center, Paris, with the French petroleum research institute IFPEN.
U.S. subsidiary Aramco Services Company’s other research centers are:the Aramco Research Center-Boston, in Cambridge across the street from MIT; and the Aramco Research Center-Houston, in the city’s northwest area Energy Corridor. Aramco’s other research facilities are located in Aberdeen; Delft, The Netherlands; Daejeon, Korea; Paris; and Beijing; as well as Dhahran and Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
The research centers are closely aligned with the company’s award-winning research organizations: the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center’s Advanced Research Center and the Research & Development Center located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
One of the carved stone structures from the archeological site of Madein Saleh in Saudi Arabia. Take a trip to the ancient city of Al ‘Ula, Saudi Arabia, which houses the archeological site of Madein Saleh and other significant historical remnants from prehistoric civilizations.
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Amin H. Nasser and Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani were among key Saudi Aramco corporate and senior leadership attending the forum in Riyadh. The day after the conclusion of the forum, Nasser welcomed delegates to Dhahran to see some of the many advances Saudi Aramco has made in carbon capture and environmental matters.
Global energy leaders converged in Riyadh for the 6th ministerial meeting of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) last week and sent a clear message that collaboration and international unity will be key in meeting present and future climate challenges.
Carbon sequestration is the process of the capture, utilization and long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The process mitigates the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases, which are released through the burning of fossil fuels.
For Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco, the four-day conference provided a timely opportunity to demonstrate the nation’s and the company’s level of engagement managing greenhouse gases (GHGs) ahead of next month’s COP21 climate conference in Paris. COP21, the United Nations’ 21st Conference of the Parties, has a goal of reaching an international climate agreement applicable to all countries and will see the participation of 196 states.
Fossil Fuels Play Key Role
At the conference, HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, emphasized the importance of unity, collaboration, and innovation and technology in addressing the challenges presented by greenhouse gases.
“The world’s natural resources have powered global economic growth for centuries,” he told delegates. “Incredible progress has been made around the world in everything from transport to education, health care to infrastructure — all thanks to the energy derived from fossil fuels. We hope, in the future, that developing nations can also gain the benefits from these resources. And we hope that technology and innovation can help us reduce any unwanted side effects. I believe that climate change is a challenge that can be overcome by human ingenuity, research, and technological advances. That said, all of us here today appreciate that the global energy mix is changing and evolving, and that’s a good thing. Renewable forms of energy, such as nuclear, solar, and wind are increasingly utilized. We believe all forms of energy will be required to help meet the needs of future generations.” Al-Naimi went on to underscore the “vital” global importance of the CSLF.
“I believe all the nations represented on the CSLF, and many beyond, share a belief that carbon capture and storage is a critical part of the global quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this we stand united.”
A clear demonstration of this quest was provided by Khaled A. Al Buraik, vice president of Petroleum Engineering and Development at Saudi Aramco. Al Buraik showcased the groundbreaking CO2-EOR project at Saudi Aramco’s ‘Uthmaniyah facility. The project is regarded as a milestone for the Kingdom’s efforts in carbon management and is the largest of its kind in the Middle East.
The CO2Capture project at location injects compressed CO2into flooded oil reservoirs as a mechanism for CO2storage, and the injection of CO2under high pressure simultaneously enhances oil recovery. For these reasons, carbon capture and storage is considered a win-win technological solution.
Another of Saudi Aramco’s innovative approaches to carbon capture and storage was evidenced in its mobile carbon capture device for vehicles. Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani, acting business line head of Upstream for Saudi Aramco, said that the company had showcased a suite of initiatives designed to meet climate change challenges. “Everybody is coming together at a critical moment in the climate change dialog before COP21. We can build consensus around what really needs to be done — around greenhouse gases (GHGs) in general and CO2in particular — in terms of capture and making use of it once it is captured, and that would be a great thing. We at Saudi Aramco demonstrated in this forum several initiatives that make the use of hydrocarbons very efficient, including the capture of CO2, which is very beneficial to the environment and which can make economic sense, as well. We are showing a few cases, including an innovative mobile carbon capture approach achieving great results — up to 25% in its capture. In time, this concept will become more cost effective, much more compact, and we hope to see an increase of efficiency by up to 50%.”
“The first thing that I would say is that this is probably the most successful Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum for quite some cycles. U.S. Secretary of Energy Moniz chaired in Washington and, in my opinion, rejuvenated CSLF. Then to have HE Minister Al-Naimi host and as co-chairman the session this week brought it still to a higher level,” Worthington said.
“If you look globally, Moniz and Al-Naimi are arguably the two most important energy ministers in the world. And for the two of them to be as a team co-chairing the CSLF ministerial meeting — to use a cliché — you cannot get much better than that.
“I probably pay more attention to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) than the majority of people in the energy business. And I personally was not aware of all of the things that Saudi Arabia was doing. It may sound relatively minor, but it’s actually quite remarkable to recognize that Saudi Aramco is the only entity in the world that has an automobile that can capture carbon dioxide on board (CO2).
“I think we have to commend the Kingdom in that regard, of being forward-looking and recognizing that it takes many of these novel technologies, and by novel, I mean new and different, things that take 20 years from when you begin until you are ready and can be serious about deployment,” Worthington said.
Speaking to more than 100 entrepreneurs, institute professionals, and politicians, Nabil A. Al-Nuaim, president of Aramco Asia, emphasized Aramco’s promise to play a part in a new “Silk Road” collaboration with China. His comments came during The Chinese-Foreign Business Dialog portion of the Asian Special Conference on the Silk Road, which was held Oct. 14-16 in Beijing.
The New Silk Road Economic Belt over Land and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road over the Ocean initiatives were introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to enhance international cooperation. Saudi Arabia, which was a critical player in the ancient Maritime Silk Road, agreed to participate in the modern-day version, and on March 14, the Kingdom joined the list of founding states of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to support these Belt and Road strategic initiatives.
Al-Nuaim pointed to the cooperation between the company and Sinopec in developing a world-class refinery and chemical integrated project, both in China’s southern Fujian Province and in the Kingdom at Yanbu’. “The two investments complement each other and allow both energy giants to provide unique energy trade opportunities between the Pacific Region, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. We see them as true examples of ‘Energy Silk Road-like’ partnerships,” Al-Nuaim said.
Al-Nuaim also highlighted the exchange in technology, noting that Aramco inaugurated its Beijing Research Center in April. A first for the company in the Asia-Pacific region, the center, which is driven by young Chinese scientists, will extend its research agenda into the downstream arena in addition to its current upstream activities.
Meanwhile, he further noted that China’s impact in the Kingdom is significant as well, in particular in Jazan Economic City and Ras al-Khair City. He added that not only can Chinese manufacturers and service providers benefit from such project but that “with the current developments of refineries, industrial cities, and infrastructures, the Kingdom can become a strategic platform for Chinese and Asian investors that are eager to go global and expand their market footprint.”