LONDON, February 22, 2011 – The Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) has established Saudi Aramco Product Trading Company (Aramco Trading), a wholly-owned subsidiary, to maximize downstream integration and generate value by leveraging its growing global system.
Aramco Trading would undertake and enhance the system balancing of refined petroleum products to optimize and support Saudi Aramco’s expanding in-Kingdom and overseas downstream investment portfolio.
“Through the establishment of this new subsidiary Aramco Trading, we hope to better capture integration opportunities in our global system, and additionally create more value for our expanding downstream business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and overseas,” Khalid G. Al-Buainain, senior vice president, Downstream, Saudi Aramco, said in his address to customers, industry participants and stakeholders at the company’s IP Week annual gathering in London.
With energy demand forecast to rise in the long term, Saudi Aramco continues to demonstrate its commitment to meeting future demand by undertaking a significant downstream capital program via investments through its subsidiaries, affiliates and joint ventures in Saudi Arabia and abroad.
“The shift in trade patterns will bring both challenges and opportunities that can be leveraged by the Company in balancing its system and create value through the continuous market participation,” said Said A. Al-Hadrami, President and CEO of the newly formed subsidiary. “We also want to emphasize that the new subsidiary will only engage in products trading,” he added.
The subsidiary will be based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and will commence trading operations by the end of 2011, Al-Hadrami said.
HOUSTON, February 23, 2011 — Saudi Aramco sponsored students just beginning their college experience in the United States and Canada are usually filled with excitement about the journey ahead…and also filled with questions about what life will be like where they study.
Abdullah Wahbi, right, joins new students in a small-group meeting.
To help ease the transition, Aramco Services Co. (ASC) conducts an annual student orientation program called “Road to Success” just before the fall semester. Students learn about cultural awareness, campus life, safety, legal issues, money management and health awareness from ASC representatives and others.
ASC also invites several Saudi Aramco-sponsored students already attending North American schools to serve as student leaders to talk about their experiences.
Five student leaders have been featured in a video titled “In Their Own Words,” that ASC produced for the 2010 orientation program. Each told a story about adjusting to a new culture and language.
Sara Sinan joins a group of students and advisors during a lunch gathering.
They also highlighted their most memorable experiences. One student talked about her experience on a field trip with fellow geology students to study a volcano, and another expressed the profound emotions he felt volunteering to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Featured were Abrar Al-Abbad at Pennsylvania State University (geology major), Abdullah Wahbi at Louisiana State University (recent graduate in geology), Ahmed Alsaif at the University of North Carolina (recent finance graduate), Sara Sinan at the University of North Carolina (MIS) and Sami Marzoog at the University of Minnesota (chemical engineering).
The student leaders drew from their experiences to advise new students on how they could make the most of their college years in the United States.
According to Wahbi, schoolwork should be done before anything else, “because that is what matters to graduate at the top.&
Alsaif said he hoped students would take their four years in college as a challenge. “There will be a lot of people who are going to study the same major; how will you distinguish yourself?” he asked. “Do your best. Maintain a high GPA.”
Sinan recommended that everyone cultivate friendships with others from the United States, “to learn about the culture, the people surrounding you. These friends will make a difference in your life.”
ASC has been offering the student orientation program for four consecutive years. Collectively, 778 students have attended.
The company is currently sponsoring 255 students attending schools for the first time in North America during the 2010-11 academic year. Of those, 153 are new participants in the College Degree Program for Non-Employees; 12 are exchange program participants; and 90 are pursuing doctoral, master’s and associate degrees.
Overall, more than 1,000 company-sponsored students, new and returning, are attending schools in North America.
The 2011 Road to Success student orientation is already scheduled for August. ASC advisers are working on the program, which will continue the tradition of bringing student leaders to Houston to share their wisdom and with new students.
DELFT, The Netherlands, February 23, 2011 – Saudi Aramco reinforced its commitment to cutting-edge research and education in the oil and gas industry recently when Ahmed M. Alzayyat, managing director of Aramco Overseas Co., made a donation to the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) on behalf of the company.
Ahmed M. Alzayyat and other members of the Saudi Aramco delegation pose with representatives from TU Delft at the donation ceremony.
It was Saudi Aramco’s second such donation to TU Delft.
Both the original 2009 donation and the 2010 donation are being used to fund postdoctoral research in hydrotreating activities focusing on desulfurization. In that process, sulfur contaminants are removed from hydrocarbons.
As Alzayyat reminded the audience, including professor Karel Luyben, rector magnificus of TU Delft, and Michiel Makkee, the supervisor of the postdoctoral student carrying out the research, “Research such as this is of great importance to Saudi Aramco, the energy industry, and the world at large” because it will “help protect our environment.”
Sulfur contaminants produced from hydrocarbon combustion are a major cause of pollution, causing, for example, acid rain. One of Saudi Aramco’s main corporate responsibilities, and a long-standing priority of the company, is to mitigate the worldwide impact of petroleum use.
Alzayyat stressed that Saudi Aramco is proud to partner with “top-notch” universities worldwide to discover “new breakthroughs” in the energy industry.
As president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih said in a September 2010 speech at the World Energy Congress in Montreal, Canada, “There are significant opportunities to make petroleum more environmentally friendly” and that “it is incumbent on our industry to do its utmost to realize those enhancements.”
Saudi Aramco’s partnership with TU Delft allows the company to fund research that will help ensure the company will continue to act as a responsible environmental steward, supplying, as Alzayyat noted, “reliable energy sources for future generations.”
DHAHRAN, February 18, 2011 — Saudi Aramco has signed two engineering and project management services contracts as part of its General Engineering Services Plus (GES+) initiative.
Saudi Aramco’s GES+ initiative requires that the majority of its engineering services requirements be conducted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and will enhance the development of training and domestic employment opportunities.
The GES+ contracts were executed with two consortiums comprising the following entities:
- Mustang International and Faisal Jamel Al-Hejailan Engineering Company (Mustang Hejailan), Dar Al-Riyadh Engineering Consultants (DAR), and Petro-Infrastructure Engineering Consultants Company (PI Consult);
- A. Al-Saihati, A. Fattani & O. Al-Othman Consulting Engineering Company (SOFCON), Saudi Consolidated Engineering Company for Engineering Consultancy (SCEC), and Foster Wheeler Arabia Company Ltd (Foster Wheeler).
The two consortiums were selected following a competitive bidding process. Accordingly, following contract development, Saudi Aramco identified qualified contractors capable of carrying out front end engineering design (FEED), detailed design, material procurement, and project management services (PMS) to support its capital program.
Once registered and licensed in-Kingdom, these consolidated entities will be independent standalone companies and will employ and train Saudi nationals. It is anticipated that there will be additional contract awards once certain requirements have been fulfilled by other qualified contracting companies, which were involved in the GES+ bidding.
The GES+ contracts are for the duration of five years with options available for extensions.
RUB’ AL-KHALI, February 16, 2011 – One man’s dream has the power to affect many.
In this case, it was one Saudi man’s dream to relive the past, and it brought together six men (three Saudi and three Americans) of different ages and backgrounds. For the Saudis, it was a chance to reconnect; for the Americans, it was to experience anew what few today have done.
Each evening the team met around the campfire to share stories and laughs. Pictured here are (left to right) Geraiyan al-Hajri, Obaid Mohsin Al-Marri, Nabiel Al-Shaikh and Ibrahim Al-Qahtani.
(Photo: James Duggan)
The effect it had will last a lifetime for those who participated and be spread far and wide to those who didn’t as the team included a writer, two professional photographers, a videographer and an archeologist/geologist from the Dammam Museum.
It began as all great journeys do — with careful, meticulous planning. In late 2010, Geraiyan Al-Hajri, a Saudi Aramco construction engineer and the deep-desert expert and visionary behind the trip, began planning the “Travel Back in Time” camel expedition.
“I wanted for us to reconnect with the past, to recognize the hardships the Bedouin faced and to learn more about how they lived in the Rub Al-Khali,” said Al-Hajri. “I began thinking about it two years ago, and last year, I decided it was time to do it and began planning.”
The trip would take place in the Rub Al-Khali, known in English as The Empty Quarter, which is the world’s largest uninterrupted sand sea encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula and covering some 650,000 square kilometers.
Blazing sun, blowing sands and even rain failed to slow the camels who moved stoically forward.
(Photo: Nabiel Al-Shaikh)
The team approached the expedition, not with the intention of conquering the desert but with the intention of passing gently through, knowing that success would come only by living in harmony with nature.
The riding team comprised Bradley Wilkinson, Saudi Aramco Public Relations; Todd Nims, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture; James Duggan, freelance photographer and son of Saudi Aramco employee Joseph Duggan; Nabiel Al-Shaikh, Dammam Regional Museum; and Fahad Al-Daajani, a freelance photographer from al-Khafji.
In addition, for much of the way, Al-Hajri, a seasoned desert trekker, strolled alongside the camels directing the caravan to its next destination and regaling the team with wonderful stories.
By the end of the journey, new friendships had been forged, and a sense of camaraderie was felt by all.
(Photo: James Duggan)
Nims, Duggan and Al-Daajani, the young photographers on the team, worked together sharing ideas and techniques as well as swapping cameras and equipment to obtain the very best photos and video footage to document the trip, capture fascinating stories and show the world a life that few follow today.
Al-Shaikh, the team’s archeologist/geologist, scoured the land at each stop, collecting both archeological artifacts and geological indications of what had transpired. Wilkinson recorded it in his ever-filling notebook of fact and perception, as well as the deeply reflective insight the trip provoked.
After reviewing the company’s Surveying Services Emergency Content Manual, which provides valuable information on what to do in the case of an emergency in the desert, the Dhahran team departed by plane to Haradh. The traveler’s prayer over the plane’s public address system took on new meaning as the flight was the first leg of a much bigger adventure.
When they arrived at Haradh, they were met by members of Al-Hajri’s team, many of whom were using their vacation days to support the historic journey.
Using a company skid road that Al-Hajri and his crew had built, the travelers were driven about 170 km south to the Nadgan Well, where the warm mineral waters coming out of the ground are believed by many to have healing powers.
After enjoying the waters, the team drove deeper into the desert to rendezvous with the camels and the support team. At times, it seemed as if their vehicle floated above the surface as the desert sands cushioned the ride.
At that point, the final destination, the Umm al-Hadid meteorite crater, lay about 240 km away. It was expected that the travelers would average about 35 km per day and cover the distance in one week. In the end, the caravan averaged 40 km per day and made the trip in six days.
Throughout the trip, the team stopped at a number of wells. Some like this are still in use.
(Photo: Nabiel Al-Shaikh)
When the team arrived at the camel encampment, they were greeted with a traditional Saudi welcoming dance, qahwa (Saudi coffee spiced with cardamom) and dates. The route would pass by wells dug deep into the desert, some by Saudi Aramco and others by the Bedouin themselves.
One such well, Bir Hudbah, had been hand dug by the parents of Bakheet Bathan Al-Marri, a respected member of the al-Marri tribe and the owner of the expedition camels. He and his son Bathan provided support throughout and delivered many entertaining stories in the evening around the campfire.
Members of the al-Marri came and went throughout the trip. It seemed that driving in the desert to them was the same as a city dweller driving to their favorite restaurant to enjoy an evening’s meal.
A daily siesta beside the camel became a post lunch tradition. Thankfully, no one interrupted the all-too short nap by calling on the satellite phone. (Photo: Nabiel Al-Shaikh)
One night, musicians came to entertain the team with traditional Bedouin songs accompanied by the mournful sound of the rebaba (a stringed instrument played with a bow).
On the other evenings, everyone simply met around the campfire telling stories (both traditional and modern), reciting poetry and engaging in lively conversation all while consuming massive amounts of qahwa, tea and hot milk. Needless to say, sleep came easy at the end of each evening.
The caravan followed traditional Bedouin methods of travel with a few modern twists. For safety, the travelers were aided by satellite phones and supported by vehicles that carried food, water, tents and a team that moved the camp each day.
A seasoned desert trekker, Geraiyan Al-Hajri, the man behind the caravan, walked with the camels much of the way. As a young boy, his father took him for long walks in the desert teaching him to love and respect it.
(Photo: Nabiel Al-Shaikh)
On occasion, vehicles got stuck but never the camels that plodded along at a steady pace with the print of their footsteps marking the passage until the blowing sand obliterated any trace.
Bir Shanadhir was one of the first destinations, and it proved quite exciting. A sand dune was slowly wrapping around the long dry well site, leaving one to wonder what might lie hidden under the ever shifting sands. Two mill stones and pottery had previously been found at the site, and in no time, the team found an arrowhead, glass and shell beads, broken bits of tools and the handle of a pot.
“Bedu typically don’t carry pottery and jars,” said archeologist Al-Shaikh. “They prefer skins, so this is quite interesting. I would like to return someday with a team of scientists to spend more time so we could conduct an extensive survey of this area.”
Each day, the support team moved the camp forward approximately 40 km.
(Photo: James Duggan)
On the weekend, Galet Al-Aida, chief explorationist, Southern Area Exploration Division; and Sa’id Al-Hajri, chief explorationist, Eastern Area Exploration Division, came to experience the desert in the way of their ancestors.
“I was able to get a very close look at the topography while taking my time on the camel, and I got to experience the way the Bedouin traveled a hundred years ago,” said Sa’id.
He was profoundly influenced by the experience. “I couldn’t miss the quietness, stillness and clarity you get from being out here. The silence is so loud you can’t ignore it.”
The moon shines through the clouds one evening in
the Rub’ al-Khali.
(Photo: James Duggan)
The team camped one night near the well of Ubaylah, located at the lowest point of an ancient lake bed. A piece of petrified wood provided evidence of lush days long gone, and shards of pottery presented tantalizing signs of human activity. Nonetheless, four graves dug into the hardpan lake bed were a reminder to all of the unforgiving nature of The Empty Quarter.
The next morning, it was on to Bir Umm al-Hadid — the Well of the Mother of Iron.
As the team crested the final dune overlooking the well, they looked on as a water tanker was being filled with precious water from deep underground. Peering into the well, one could only imagine the courage, strength and determination it must have taken to have dug so deeply into the earth with only a hope that water would be struck.
The water operation was overseen by the youthful eye of 88-year-old Faraj Talib Al-Hulayal Al-Marri who tended the well. Al-Marri and his son came to the campsite that evening for dinner.
Bradley Wilkinson and his camel Ubaylah enjoy one of the many stunning views and share a reflective moment. (Photo: Nabiel Al-Shaikh)
He not only shared wonderful stories of his own, but he also brought a container of fresh camel milk for all to enjoy. The graciousness and respect of the Bedouin the team met throughout the journey were as vast as the desert itself.
The team headed on to its final destination, the Umm al-Hadid meteorite crater and the final campsite. When they arrived shortly before sunset, the team experienced a profound moment of satisfaction.
They had successfully and safely achieved a difficult objective under the guidance of a gracious and determined leader with the help of a dedicated team and the strength of their steady mounts in an environment both stunning and desolate. Few moments in life can be so fulfilling.
After celebrations the next morning that included being thankful to God, then breaking into impromptu dance and songs, the team headed to the crater.
One couldn’t help but be humbled by the power of what had transpired. A mighty meteor from the sky had once lit up the night, gouging a path into the earth and leaving a trail of glass fired from the sands in its wake. Given the combination of a heavenly body wreaking havoc on this immense sea of sand, one couldn’t help but reflect that mankind is only a miniscule part of an immeasurable universe and master plan that is constantly unfolding around us.
After the trip, Fahad Al-Daajani reflected on his experience in a presentation to a delegation from Harvard University that was visiting Saudi Arabia.
“My father always told me stories from the early days, but I could never quite relate to them. Now I understand what he was saying and better understand where I come from,” he said.
For this young man, Al-Hajri’s dream of reconnecting with the past had indeed been achieved.
(Article by Bradley Wilkinson)
Lessons from an Unlikely Source
Recently, I was fortunate to ride a camel 240 km into the Rub Al-Khali. I was blessed to be on the trip but was doubly blessed by the camel I rode. Her name was Ubaylah.
When you are alone on the back of a camel in the vast expanse of The Empty Quarter, you come to know your mount in a special way, and indeed, Ubaylah was special. She modeled for me many characteristics of a leader.
More often than not she was out front leading the way, breaking the trail and facing head on any dangers that may arise. While plodding along in the sand, she continually looked right and left as if seeking opportunities and watching for threats.
Often, she looked back to check on her team, ensuring they were all together and moving toward the shared objective, yet she kept her determination to move forward regardless of the challenges. When approaching a dune, she left it to her rider to determine the best direction to take, understanding that a leader often has to trust her people.
Twice, she stubbornly refused to go forward, insisting to turn around. After trying unsuccessfully to impose my will on her, I finally gave in. It seems I wasn’t nearly as trusting of her decision-making ability as she was of mine.
On one such occasion, she turned and headed directly toward the one camel on the team that was struggling. She instinctively knew one of her team members was in trouble. As a true leader, she placed herself beside the weaker team member providing support and encouragement until the other animal calmed down and could keep up.
At one point she was content only after we had tied the camel to her saddle so she could provide ongoing support and direction. On yet another, she wouldn’t take the lead, preferring to give another team member the experience. After awhile, she once again took command and moved up front.
In the Rub’ al-Khali a camel named Ubaylah taught me about leadership. Indeed, teachers come in many forms.
(Sidebar by Bradley Wilkinson)