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.
Saudi Aramco has again played a key role in one of the world’s premier shipping and maritime events.
Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM), held in Dubai, has established itself as a platform for launching new products over the course of 11 years. Part of Dubai Maritime Week, the event saw the participation of over 7,000 professionals and experts in the maritime and offshore industry representing ports and shipping companies from 67 countries.
SMEM 2014 was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan ibn Muhammad ibn Rashed Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, at the Dubai International Exhibition Center. Saudi Aramco is a strategic partner of the event.
In an address given on behalf of Bader Ghouth, Saudi Aramco’s Marine Department manager, Fehr Khomais, acting Marine Planning, Programs and Support Services Unit supervisor, praised the forum’s efforts to provide a platform for ship operators, builders and owners to exchange creative ideas and new technological solutions.
Khomais also pointed out the Saudi Aramco’s current expansion in operations offshore such as Karan, Arabiyah and Hasbah will create new opportunities in the workboat sector.
Such developments will require a new generation of technologically developed ships to maintain reliable services, Khomais said.
Running parallel to the efforts to pursue the development of such new fields, Saudi Aramco will continue to provide the required services to the Company’s offshore oilfields in Safaniyah, Marjan, Zuluf, Abu Safah and Berri.
To address new challenges, Saudi Aramco started to utilize the services of 16 platform supply vessels (PSV’s), all equipped with a Class-2 dynamic positioning system (DP-II), in order to provide the optimal supply service to rigs and barges operating in the company’s offshore fields.
Khomais emphasized in his address that the new basic fleet requirements will consist of larger and more powerful docking tugs, self-propelled jack-up barges, offshore security patrol vessels, diving service vessels equipped with Class-II dynamic positioning systems, state of the art anchor handling vessels and large offshore maintenance and accommodation vessels.
Khomais concluded his address by saying that Saudi Arabia’s marine operations sector has promising capabilities to contribute to the diversification of the national economy and advance the Kingdom’s development.
The building of an integrated shipyard in Ras Al-Khair is expected to create a major opportunity to establish ship repair yards and support all phases of ship building and repair. In addition, Saudi Aramco’s offshore areas development and upgrade projects will lead to an increased demand for the recruitment and training of manpower specialized in this field, a challenge Saudi Aramco is addressing by utilizing the training courses provided by King Abdulaziz University’s Faculty of Marine Sciences.
The forum featured four sessions focusing on three topics. The first topic extended over the first and second sessions and addressed operational safety, efficiency and reliability; the second topic was Vessel Design and Growing Sophistication while the third was Environmental Conservation. Each session had two technical papers presented.
In the early hours of Oct. 28, students from all of the Kingdom’s major cities and remotest villages came to the National Industrial Training Institute (NITI) in al-Hasa, carrying with them their dreams and endless questions.
In the hall packed with promising dreams, Saad Al-Shahrani, NITI project manager, provided new students with confidence and support as he embraced this long-awaited moment. “We have developed a special program to receive 350 new students at NITI,” he said.
Al-Shahrani confirmed that Saudi Aramco’s contribution in the institute came in the context of a long-term strategy designed to train and qualify Saudi manpower for sustaining the development of the national economy.
“The output of this institute will fulfill the needs of the oil and petrochemical industries, as well as other related industries Kingdom-wide,” said Mohammed Al-Omair, chairman of NITI’s Board of Trustees and Saudi Aramco vice president of Pipelines, Distribution and Terminals.
Hamad Al-Marri of Salmaniya in al-Hasa, who got his high school diploma with a cumulative rate of about 93 percent, said that he aspired to join Saudi Aramco through NITI for many reasons, not least of which was a job and career security that can support innovation. “My specialization is operation, a job involving a lot of development, productivity and good benefits. I can learn a lot of new things and work in various cities and sectors,” Al-Marri said.
Mohammed Al-Zamil from Ras Tanura came to join NITI and was accepted as a mechanical technician. Al-Zamil said that he came to NITI to pursue his dream of working in Saudi Aramco. “Although I got accepted by most universities in the Eastern Province, the reputation of this company and its staff made NITI my best choice,” he said.
Mohammed F. Al-Melhem, a young man living in Hofuf, shares the same ambition with Al-Zamil and Al-Marri. The work environment at Saudi Aramco was one of the main reasons he joined NITI’s program. “I’ve invested a lot in myself and developed my English in recent years so that I could join one of the training programs that would qualify me for work in Saudi Aramco. Today, I am about to achieve my great dream,” he said.
Saeed Al-Buwait, coordinator at NITI, said that the large number of the first group of students in attendance demonstrates a commitment on their part and a desire to achieve their ambitions. “I saw them receiving their uniforms one by one, and I could see in their eyes a hope for the future,” he said.