Category Archive: Pipeline
As a world energy leader, Aramco is committed to promoting industry excellence. The company took a unique approach to exemplify this commitment by hosting a forum that brought together technology leaders from multiple industries. The event encouraged them to look beyond their normal circles to see what others might be doing to solve similar challenges and then seek opportunities for technology collaboration.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided major assistance in the development of the technical program. Both the aerospace and energy sectors operate, at times, in harsh, remote, and often unexplored environments. As such, they are constantly looking for new ways to ensure safety and reliability.
Inside the capsule
More than 500 climbed aboard, joining Aramco, NASA and others representing industry majors such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Cameron, Anadarko, Baker Hughes, DuPont, Dell, Fluor, GE Oil & Gas, Lockheed Martin, and many more. Other industries, such as medical and shipping, were represented as well.
Additionally, faculty, researchers, and students from Rice University, MIT, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Georgia Tech, Baylor College of Medicine, and other institutions participated.
“There are overarching challenges faced by a broad range of sectors — energy, aerospace, medical, chemicals and more,” said Al-Shafei. “This forum is designed to explore crossover technologies and look at winning strategies and innovative corporate cultures that are making a difference.”
The two-day event featured an impressive list of speakers during three general sessions and five concurrent technical tracks, or Deep Dives, that addressed innovation and emerging technologies within the areas of risk management and reliability, robotics and automation, advanced materials, synergy between industries, cybersecurity, and Big Data analysis.
Shaybah: Our own piece of Mars!
“Despite being roughly 600 kilometers away from any city, set in extreme temperatures, and having no infrastructure, Saudi Aramco was able to reliably deliver oil out of the highest sand desert in the world within two years.”
Shaybah: Our own piece of Mars!
Serving as a keynote speaker was Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer at Saudi Aramco, who noted that the oil and gas, aerospace and medical fields are “industries taking science and engineering to the limit.”
Al Khowaiter illustrated his point by telling attendees about the development of the Shaybah Field in Saudi Arabia. “Shaybah was our own piece of Mars!” he said, explaining that it was roughly 600 kilometers away from any city, set in extreme temperatures, and had no infrastructure. Yet, despite those conditions, he said the company was able to “reliably deliver oil out of the highest sand desert in the world within two years.”
Eric van Oort, professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, further talked about innovation, saying the current downturn in the oil and gas industry is creating unique opportunities to improve efficiencies in the construction of both onshore and offshore oil and gas wells. He said Saudi Aramco was setting a good example as being one of the only companies currently expanding its technology in well construction. “I applaud them for doing it,” he said.
The conference also marked the inaugural “Student Award of Excellence” program to inspire university teams to develop a poster presentation based on one of the forum’s focus areas. A group from Texas A&M University received the award for its presentation on enhancing the performance of remotely operated vehicles in subsea and deep space environments using augmented and virtual reality toolsets.
A number of participants commented on their experience, including keynote speaker John Olson, vice president of Space Systems at the Sierra Nevada Corporation, and former senior executive at NASA Headquarters, as well as the Office of Science and Technology Policy at The White House. “In my 26-plus years of speaking on panels at various conferences,” he said, “I’ve had broad exposure to a wide range of event processes and products. From this perspective, I’d like to offer my feedback on this particular event: It was extraordinarily well done.
Executives of Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical toured the nearly completed Sadara complex in Jubail on April 30 to inaugurate the first six plants and control rooms, using the opportunity to be updated by major contracting partners on the work that remains to be completed.
Collaboration has been the hallmark of the Sadara project from the beginning, with Saudi Aramco and its joint venture partner, Dow Chemical Co., pairing up their respective expertise in hydrocarbon production and refining, and high-value chemical production. Collaboration has also been crucial to the construction phase, a point made during individual meetings between Saudi Aramco’s Downstream senior vice president Abdulrahman F. Al Wuhaib, Dow Chemical’s CEO Andrew Liveris and the major construction and engineering contractor CEOs held during their tour.
Abdulrahman F. Al Wuhaib
“Making the Sadara vision a reality is down to all of us in the Sadara family.”
Al Wuhaib said that the meeting came at a time when the Sadara project is more than 90% complete, with a notable 1 million man-hours of planning, 9 million man-hours of engineering, and nearly 350 million man-hours of construction.
“Let me thank you again for the tangible advances that have been made since we were here last time,” said Al Wuhaib. “But let me be clear that the hardest work still lies ahead, and the world is watching. Let’s use the power of partnership to push for the finish line without compromising safety or quality.
Accompanying Al-Wuhaib on the tour were Chemicals vice president Warren Wilder and other executives from Downstream.
Sadara is not just another project; it is the cornerstone of the company’s downstream strategy, of becoming a leading global chemicals player and adding value through the Kingdom’s hydrocarbon resources.
At more than 90% complete, the Sadara complex is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest integrated chemical complex ever built in a single phase, with more than 3 million tons of capacity per year. Sadara will be the first chemical complex to crack naphtha in the Gulf region, which will enable the manufacturing of a diverse number of products never previously produced in the Kingdom.
Sadara’s full value will be seen in an economic ripple effect of industrial clusters, value parks, and the development of the knowledge-based research, engineering, and service firms to support them. While Sadara itself is set to employ more than 3,000 people, it is expected to also create economic opportunities for manufacturing and service businesses that would generate an additional 15,000 jobs in the Jubail area.
International experts gathered in al-Khobar to discuss the challenges of balancing the ever-growing worldwide need for energy with the responsibility of doing so in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Held under the patronage of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa‘ud, Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the Global Methane Initiative for the Oil and Gas Sector Workshop and Exhibition took place over four days.
“The Kingdom is fully aware that sustainable economic development will not be achieved without taking the issue of climate change into account,’’ Prince Abdulaziz said in making his welcoming remarks to attendees.
He reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to devoting its full attention to making specific contributions on issues pertaining to climate change, such as methane initiatives and carbon management, to be submitted before the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris at the end of the year.
Saudi Aramco adopted its first environmental protection policy framework in 1963 — a decade before the United Nations’ landmark Conference on the Human Environment, and has an all-encompassing approach to environmental stewardship.
Saudi Aramco’s efforts include ensuring the proper design of facilities, innovative technological tools, conservation and waste management efforts, and comprehensive energy efficiency programs.
Specific to the issue of tackling greenhouse gas emissions and particularly methane emissions, the company undertakes these four initiatives:
- Methane recovery and utilization, most notably the development of the Master Gas System 40 years ago, which captures gas produced in association with crude oil, processes it and provides it to a wide array of industries and utilities that would otherwise be consuming petroleum products. As a result, Saudi Aramco reduced its flaring to practically zero by the early 1980s.
- A Corporate Flaring Minimization Roadmap that establishes guidelines to further reduce and minimize flaring, and calls for the installation of flare gas recovery systems.
- Utilization of zero-discharge technology in the company’s drilling and workover operations captures all hydrocarbons intermittently produced during drilling operations.
- Minimizing and, ideally, eliminating fugitive methane emissions from pumps, valves, tanks, pipelines and other equipment in the company’s processing facilities.
A young Saudi Aramco firefighter has helped raise in excess of $2 million for a leukemia charity by stair climbing 69 stories of a U.S. high-rise building while carrying a full kit of life-saving equipment.
Amer Waleed Garatli, a 25-year-old associate degree student of Fire Protection Technology AAS at Portland Community College, has been praised for showing exemplary dedication and personal initiative.
The grueling stair climb, a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, requires firefighters to race up 69 flights of stairs in Seattle’s Columbia Center in full safety gear — a total of 138 flights of stairs.
Garatli managed to sign up for the charity event after being put on a waiting list due to the level of uptake.
“Basically, the event is stair climbing 69 stories with full firefighting gear and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus,” he said. “Time was really tight for me to start arranging stuff, most important of which was shipping my gear over. My family supported me all the way and ensured that I received all of the stuff that I needed and I am grateful for their efforts to make this happen.
“Since the event’s main purpose is to help raise funds for leukemia patients, I had the idea of making a custom T-shirt to support this society. I then thought of representing my company and my country as a whole, being the only Saudi participant among the 1,711 firefighters from across the world,” Garatli added.
“That was the reason for me putting the logos on the T-shirt. I trained so hard for it with the help of my personal trainer at the gym, but obviously the competition level was higher than we had expected,” he said.
Garatli has resolved to participate in the event again next year, noting, “This experience has been nothing but an enriching experience and I have gained a lot of awesome friends.
“I can’t seem to find the right words to express my passion toward the fire service. My motivation and continuous encouragement from my superiors have driven me to achieve great things, most important of which is the two-year scholarship program I’m currently doing in the United States,” added Garatli.
Thousands of miles away in Dhahran, Garatli’s efforts have drawn praise from the young firefighter’s management.
Ali A. Mokhtar, manager of Fire Protection at the FrPD, said that Garatli demonstrated his passion for his job, his company, and his nation.
“Amer is one of our young firemen who show high interest and passion in his profession as a firefighter,” Mokhtar said.
“Since he joined the department, he has demonstrated excellent skill in learning and leadership. Immediately after his graduation from FrPD line specific training, Amer was nominated to be an assistant instructor at our Advanced Fire Training Center (AFTC) in Ju’aymah.
“He turned out to be one of our best instructors at AFTC, and based on his excellent performance as an instructor, he was nominated for Associate Degree Program in Fire Protection in the U.S. I’m not really surprised to see him participate in such an event because he always looks for challenges and loves to challenge himself,” Mokhtar said.
The company has taken another stride toward becoming a global leader in technology, and research and development with the opening of the Beijing Research Center (BRC) in Beijing, China last week.
HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, officially opened the state-of-the-art 4,400 sq. meter center, making it the latest addition to Saudi Aramco’s global research and development network. It will be managed and operated by Aramco’s office in Beijing.
The inauguration ceremony was led by Al-Naimi; Yahya Al-Zaid, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to China; Amin H. Nasser, acting president and CEO of Saudi Aramco; Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer; Ahmed A. Al-Subaey, executive director for Marketing, Supply, and Joint Ventures Coordination; and Ibrahim Q. Al-Buainain, president of Aramco Asia.
The inauguration ushers in a new era of collaboration between the two countries, founded on a commitment to knowledge, research, and innovation, Al-Naimi said in keynote remarks at the opening attended by government officials from Saudi Arabia and China as well as business partners.
“Saudi Arabia recognizes that the participation of its leading companies in China’s innovation system today brings great potential for mutual benefit tomorrow,” Al-Naimi said. “It is a part of our plan to engage in global innovation in regions that have complementary expertise and capacities.”
Aramco’s global research program encompasses facilities in Houston, Detroit, and Boston in North America, as well as European facilities in Aberdeen in the UK, Paris in France, and Delft in the Netherlands.
The Beijing center extends the company’s research network in Asia, joining the CO2 Management Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, South Korea.
These facilities complement Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) and the Research and Development Center (R&DC) activities in Dhahran, and another key Saudi research center in Thuwal at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Nasser spoke at a panel session about “Energy and Sustainability Challenges in China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Potential and Mechanisms for Future Cooperation.” He said the BRC would deliver “step changes” in Aramco’s global research capabilities.
“This research facility will add momentum as we produce fit-for-purpose innovation and technologies tied to our objectives and business needs,” Nasser said. “These areas are crucial to Saudi Aramco’s strategic goals in discovery, recovery, sustainability, and reliability, and therefore, they are the center’s main research thrust. Another key enabler is that China has a world-renowned expertise in chemical and enhanced oil recovery.”
Al-Buainan explained why Saudi Aramco chose Beijing.“We view the BRC as the nucleus of technology and innovation development, and will bring about desired results,” he said, “such as the development of cutting-edge technologies, not only in the upstream field, but also in the downstream sector, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.”
BRC director Khalid O. Rufaii added: “One of the main objectives of the center is to create science and develop technology that fundamentally changes and improves how we explore for oil and gas, extend reserves, and manage reservoirs.”