As a petroleum engineer who once worked in Project Management in the 1970s and early ‘80s, Perry Donaldson understands how Saudi Aramco has the power to transform society. Donaldson was part of the team that helped to build the Master Gas Program, allowing the Kingdom to take advantage of the vast gas reserves to create domestic electricity. He also helped to build the East-West Pipeline, which continues to deliver crude oil to a growing number of refineries along the Red Sea Coast.
“I liked it over here,” said Donaldson, who retired from the company in 1984 after 12 years of service. “I was in Project Management in Dhahran, and I felt like I created something,” he said with a smile. “That feels pretty good.”
If Donaldson was feeling satisfaction for a job well done, he wasn’t alone. He was just one of more than 700 Aramcons visiting the Kingdom during the recent 3rd Aramcon Reunion. Many of them gathered on March 15 at the Half Moon Bay Executive Beach for a special dinner hosted by Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih, dining under the stars, meeting up with familiar faces, and being reintroduced to the music, arts, food and culture of a country that most still consider to be home.
Shirley Seymour spent 22 satisfying years as a nurse in Abqaiq until 2012, and gained a close sense of camaraderie with her co-workers at the Abqaiq clinic. In retirement, she sees herself as a kind of ambassador for Saudi culture back in the United States. Her home has a hallway devoted to Saudi arts and culture.
“I have such a love of Saudi culture and the Saudi people,” said Seymour, who worked in the clinic in Abqaiq, and whose husband Cornell worked with the vice president for Southern Area Oil Operations. “When I go back home, I tell people, ‘You won’t believe how warm and hospitable the Saudi people are.’ I still miss the community feeling we had in Abqaiq.”
Her daughter Zakiyah, who was born in Abqaiq, agrees. “When I tell people where I grew up, I describe it as ‘Leave it to Beaver,’” she says, referring to a popular American television show of the 1950s. “It was very open, very safe, and community centered. But we also combined that with the Model United Nations. In my classroom, no group was a majority. We had three or four Asians, three Nigerians, Jordanians, Americans. Everybody was here.”
Among the Aramcons participating in the Reunion Welcome Dinner, this was a common theme: Aramco will always feel like home.
Aysha Nadir left 30 years ago, after spending her childhood in Dammam, as her father Masoud ur-Rahman worked as a drilling engineer in Abqaiq, Ras Tanura, and Dhahran.
She and four of her seven sisters returned for this year’s reunion. Aysha said she can’t believe how much Saudi Arabia has changed in the past three decades.
“Saudi Arabia has changed a lot; the cities are more developed, with tall buildings and shopping malls,” she said.
Her sister, Faiza Masoud, now a rural doctor at a clinic in the Pakistani town of Emmettpur East, says she enjoyed visiting the places where she spent her formative years growing up with Saudi Aramco: the beach at Half Moon Bay, the Third Street pool, and her old family home in Dammam.
“God gave me the best of the whole world: The best of an English-language education at Saudi Aramco schools, with Pakistani culture at home,” Masoud said. “I was born here in Saudi Arabia, and we left by the time I reached the age of seven. But this was home to me.”
Retiree John P. LeSage said that when he sees all the office buildings and residential areas that have built up between Dhahran and al-Khobar, he feels a sense of accomplishment. The reason: LeSage worked in the company’s home ownership development program that subdivided empty tracts of land into residential and commercial properties — a program that gave many Saudi Aramco employees the opportunity to build new homes.
“All my career, I was subdividing the desert,” said LeSage, who retired after 30 years of working on home ownership projects in al-Khobar, Abqaiq, Al Hasa, ‘Udhailiyah, and Dhahran. “I left in 1986, and between Dhahran and al-Khobar and Thuqbah, there was nothing but sand. But now it is all built up. It feels good.”
The Reunion Dinner provided time for returning Aramcons to mingle, catch up with old friends and colleagues, and to get a long-awaited taste of Saudi food and music. Then, after some introductory remarks by Saleh Al-Ghamdi and Ali Al Baluchi, the reunion organizers, Al-Falih thanked the returning Aramcons for the legacy of their hard work and the long-term vision that continues to drive the company into the future.
“The fields some of you helped to discover, delineate and develop are still the bedrock of our reserves and production portfolios,” Al-Falih said. “The Aramcons of today believe that the only way to do justice to that legacy of yours — the work of the generations who have come before – is to build on that foundation and take the company to the next level, transforming Saudi Aramco to make the most of the opportunities of today and tomorrow.”
Al-Falih then reminded the guests that they should continue to consider Saudi Aramco as their home.
“Many times I am greeting new guests, and for some it is their first time in the Kingdom. To them, of course, I say, ‘Welcome,’” said Al-Falih. “Many of them come repeatedly, because they are our partners or our customers, and I tell them, ‘Welcome back.’ But for this very special group, I say from my heart, ‘Welcome back home.’ This is home. And you are among family.”
Ten best innovations selected for recognition from among 148 contributions, ranging from aerial detection of oil spills to amendments to radios, desktops, security gates, and drilling rigs. Once implemented on a larger scale and in the right business lines, they will all actively contribute to facilitating future operations.
Thamer Tarabzouni, a consultant with Saudi Aramco Information Technology’s eMap Division, not only envisaged the scenario of an oil spill that might contaminate the waters of the Arabian Gulf, but was also inspired to use his long experience and come up with a new innovation that would make his division’s operations easier in the face of such a catastrophe. His idea — an aerial monitoring system — became a reality less than a year after it first sparked in his mind.
“It is a great pleasure at seeing creative innovations that facilitate and enhance Saudi Aramco’s operations“, Abdulaziz Al-Abdulkarim, executive director of Information Technology said. “IT recognizes and appreciates the value of the initiatives that serve and support the development of the company’s onshore and offshore operations.”
“A closer look at the ideas will reveal that all of them are creative ideas that save time, effort and cost, and represent a successful and better alternative to support operations in the IT sector. We are confident that with further encouragement, a firmly established approach of Saudi Aramco’s that is in line with the 2020 vision, we will see more creativity and innovation,” he added.
Al-Abdulkarim stressed the role of technology incubators in Saudi Aramco, such as the IT Future Center in Dhahran.
“No proposed idea, whatever it is, should be dismissed. We have a system in IT that lives up to the company’s aspirations and strategic vision. We are very proud that our employees developed innovations that inspired some of Saudi Aramco contracted companies; they managed to find solutions to the technical problems that these companies grappled with,” he said.
Monitoring oil spills
Tarabzouni tells that it began in the Remote Sensing Unit building in the eMaps Division when he decided that there must be a more professional, accurate and large-scale method of monitoring oil spills that may occur in the Arabian Gulf, a major oil shipping lane.
“The quickest way available to us was to use a satellite named Cosmo that sends two images a day. However, this way needs prior arrangement through a special application to request the images within a two-day window. This is the reason why I decided at the beginning of 2013 to develop a new way,” Tarabzouni added.
He said that it was not until a few months after the idea first struck him that it turned into his daily reality, with field trials and regular communications with various suppliers of this technology, until it was decided that an agreement be signed with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), as a step toward the drafting of a final action plan for the drone.
“The aerial monitor is equipped with a digital camera and a night vision camera, and flies at a maximum altitude of 5,000 meters. It can take and directly transmit clear photos. The initiative is now in its final stages. The technology has been approved for use in the company’s operations, and a final contract is being signed with KACST to bring a number of the devices soon.”
Saving wireless communications devices
The innovation of Marzouq A. Shihab, a support telecommunications technician in Abqaiq’s IT division, focuses on the development of Industrial Security’s stationary wired radios at the company’s gates and offices that oversee drilling activities.
He revealed “The idea struck me at the beginning of 2014 after increasing problems and the failure of some wireless communications devices due to misuse and high loads. I have introduced a number of amendments to the new transmitter model.”
The amendments made by Shihab took months of hard work and his creative thinking paid off later. Device temperature went down, the number of broken devices plummeted, and valuable time that was previously taken up by maintenance work was saved.
Controlling battery hydrogen content
Abdullah Y. Al-Hassan, an employee in the Tanajib IT Division, zones in on sparing communications buildings fire disasters that may result from overheating in backup battery rooms.
Al-Hassan explained: “These batteries give off explosive hydrogen gas, which increases the risk of fire at any moment. My idea is centered on installing a device to monitor the volume and weight of hydrogen in the battery room to control any increase in the hydrogen content, which should not exceed four percent of the air in the room.”
Sensors that were born in Hassan’s mind as a radical solution to the growing dangers of battery rooms, have now become an essential feature of the buildings housing these batteries.
“These devices will be linked to the monitoring and control centers in the central IT Control Department in Dhahran,” Al-Hassan added.
Basim Al-Ruwaii, manager of the Communications Operations Department, praised the efforts of the IT employees: “The innovations and creative ideas whose pioneers were recognized highlight the efforts made by the IT staff to come up with solutions and ideas that improve the department’s operations and serve Saudi Aramco’s best interests.
“These initiatives are relevant to Saudi Aramco’s employees’ everyday work and the daily challenges they face to provide energy and continue the company’s successes. We, are confident that these innovations will directly contribute to the improvement of the company’s functions and operations, as well as to the development of the way in which Saudi Aramco’s various operations and activities are conducted,” Al-Ruwaii concluded.
Aramco Asia’s five new websites were officially launched last week by Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih.
“The new Aramco Asia websites mark a new era for the digital communication in this rapidly growing region,” said Al-Falih. “In addition to increasing corporate brand awareness, these websites will also support our business growth in these dynamic markets by making us more accessible to our business partners and customers with a local and cultural touch.
Celebrating the addition of the five new websites, Saudi Aramco’s executive director of Corporate Affairs Nasser A. Al Nafisee, said: “The websites will deliver value to all business functions by better engaging key stakeholders, helping them carry out their operations more effectively and bridging any gaps between the Aramco enterprise and its business partners. This is all part of our quest to be the world’s leading supplier of energy and petrochemicals in 2020.”
The development of these websites presented Aramco Asia with both challenges and opportunities. The key communications objectives across all four key Asian markets stem from the digital channel strategy and mark the culmination of a three-month “discovery” phase to fully understand the audiences, businesses, and competition. The team also worked to ensure a first-class user experience and to create a brand-consistent digital presence for the world’s leading energy supplier.
But the challenge was how to adapt these communication objectives to each market, in terms of outlining the content strategy and functional requirements. The key point of differentiation lies in the localized content of each website and the way it is communicated to its intended audience: Business partners; customers; suppliers; and specialized interest groups such as prospective employees, academics, or the media.
The websites will raise the profile of the company in the emerging Asian region while providing a solid communications platform to showcase the company’s abundant business opportunities. They cater to the needs of the offices in China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, which serve 10 markets across the Asia-Pacific region.
Visit the websites at:
Under the patronage of HE Abdullah Al-Hussayen, Minister of Water and Electricity, and in the presence of Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, Deputy Minister for Water Affairs, the 2015 Water Arabia Conference and Exhibition was held in al-Khobar under the theme “Innovative & Reliable Water and Wastewater Technologies for Sustainable Water Quality.”
The Saudi Arabian Water Environment Association (SAWEA), Ministry of Water and Electricity, Water Environment Federation (WEF), International Desalination Association (IDA) and Dammam University organized the event, with major sponsorship support from Saudi Aramco.
Hundreds of academics and environment and water affairs experts participated in the three-day conference, which included seminars and technical workshops. The participants came from specialized companies in the public and private sectors inside and outside of Saudi Arabia.
Hany K. Abu Khadra, executive director of Saudi Aramco’s Community Services Department and conference committee chairman, spoke at the opening session. He said that the conference has come a long way since its inception six years ago: it has received solid support from the Saudi government, which has provided six billion riyals to support projects and studies that work towards water security in the Kingdom.
“Saudi Aramco is a pioneer in the field of water conservation,” said Abu Khadra. “We invested in the company’s sewage treatment facilities and nearly 75 percent of wastewater produced by the company’s communities and operational facilities is being reused. By contributing to the preservation of precious groundwater in the Kingdom, the company seeks to achieve the well-being and prosperity of future generations.”
He said the urgency of this issue requires everyone to make efforts to reach innovative solutions, such as the use of renewable energy in wastewater treatment and improving the efficiency of traditional uses of energy.
The future of water
In his speech, Al-Baghdadi stressed the sensitivity of the water situation in Saudi Arabia due to population growth and relatively scarce water resources. He noted that water conservation, the search for new technical methods and cooperation among states in the exchange of expertise and experiences on the water issue is urgently needed to preserve water resources in the Kingdom.
“The Middle East uses 80 percent of the available water resources, while states in other regions of the world, such as Latin America and the Caribbean, use only 2 percent,” he said.
Al-Baghdadi thanked Saudi Aramco for its culture of building long-term strategic objectives to provide water solutions for a secure future for the coming generations.
Saudi Aramco’s presence
Saudi Aramco offered six specialized scientific presentations in the technical program of the conference about the company’s experience regarding techniques and methods used in wastewater treatment and reuse.
Zubair Aziz Khan presented on “Revision of Water Security.” He spoke about practices that can be adopted daily to rationalize water consumption.
Ihssan Ansari spoke about modern technology in the design of water networks, with audience members asking about optimal means used.
Adel Badghaish, Umapathy Dharmaraj, Ziyad Ahmad, Thamer Al-Mutairi and David Goode gave presentations on techniques that help to preserve water resources in the region.
The WEF Public Education Award recognizes individual achievements that promote and support the development of public awareness programs. This major global award for 2014 was given to Mahmoud Al-Muiqel, a SAWEA board member who is also a Saudi employee.
Al-Muiqel was selected for his outstanding efforts in educating youth about water conservation, as he organized many visits to Saudi Aramco’s Sewage Treatment Plant, and provided several training programs for school students in the Dhahran area.
The Arthur Sidney Bedell Award, given out by WEF in recognition of the efforts of one of its members, was awarded to Abdul Hamid Al-Mansur, SAWEA’s director.
As part of the Company’s strategy of maintaining financial flexibility, Saudi Aramco has signed a new standby revolving credit facilities agreement. The USD 10 billion standby revolving credit facilities agreement replaces the existing USD 4 billion facilities agreement, which was signed in 2010.
The facilities are divided into USD and Saudi Riyal (SAR) tranches broken down as follows:
- USD 7 billion, of which USD 6 billion is a 5-year facility with two 1-year extension options (5+1+1) and USD 1 billion is an annually-renewable 364-day facility.
- SAR 11.25 billion (USD 3 billion) consisting of Murabaha facilities, of which SAR 7.5 billion (USD 2 billion) is a 5-year facility with two 1-year extension options (5+1+1) and SAR 3.75 billion (USD 1 billion) is an annually-renewable 364-day facility.
The terms of the new facilities reflect Saudi Aramco’s strong credit standing. The margin for the USD Facilities is 12 and 10 basis points (bps) for the 5-year and 364-Day Facilities respectively, while the margin for the USD 3 Billion Murabaha Facilities is 11 and 9 bps for the 5-year and 364-Day Facilities respectively. This pricing sets a benchmark in the Kingdom and the region and reflects the banking community’s continuing confidence in Saudi Aramco and Saudi Arabia.
The USD 7 billion tranche participants are Bank of China Limited (London Branch), Citi, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. (Riyadh Branch), Standard Chartered Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and The Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. as Book Runners and Mandated Lead Arrangers; BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Mizuho Bank., and RBC Capital Markets as Lead Arrangers; and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, ANZEF Limited, Gulf International Bank B.S.C., National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, National Bank of Kuwait (Jeddah Branch), The Northern Trust Company, and Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking as Arrangers.
The USD 3 billion Saudi Riyal Murabaha tranche participants are Alinma Bank, Riyad Bank, and The National Commercial Bank as Book Runners and Mandated Lead Arrangers; Banque Saudi Fransi, SAMBA Financial Group and The Saudi British Bank (SABB) as Lead Arrangers; and Arab National Bank and Saudi Hollandi Bank as Arrangers.
Riyad Bank was selected as both the Global Facilities Agent and Murabaha Facilities Agent, while The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. was selected as the USD Facilities Agent. HSBC, JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. and Riyad Bank were appointed as Global Coordinators. SAMBA Financial Group and SMBC acted as Documentation Coordinators on the Murabaha and USD Facilities, while White & Case acted as legal counsel to Saudi Aramco and Clifford Chance as lenders’ legal counsel.