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)
MANAMA, Bahrain, February 16, 2011 – Over the past 15 years, Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region has seen significant growth, thanks in no small part to the implementation of project management strategies.
Salim S. Al-Aydh, right, visits a booth at the Saudi Aramco-sponsored Project Management Institute – Gulf Chapter conference in Bahrain.
And while that growth has been remarkable, it will likely only accelerate in the coming years as emerging markets spur even more expansion throughout the area.
Those were just a few points made during the recent Project Management Institute Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) 13th international conference in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Saudi Aramco was the one of the official sponsors of the event and a winner of the Best Exhibitor Award. Several Aramcons shared their expertise at the two-day conference.
Among the key points made during the event included:
The expertise exists: Mohammed Hammad of the Jubail project execution department and President of PMI-AGC in the opening remarks noted the transformation that swept the region in the past 15 years, in which project management was one of the main factors. He pointed to some of the mega projects throughout the region, noting that the region already has the know-how in the project management field.
A time to build: Dr. James Bellini, a future analyst, said the world economy is in transition and that in the near future, emerging markets will play a significant role in that economy. He added that the Gulf region is well positioned to take advantage of these changes.Bellini also stated that as the population in the region increases, there will be a need to build vast new infrastructure.
Building new skills: Edward Shelton of the Professional Development Department emphasized the importance of discovering and training young professionals. Shelton shared Saudi Aramco’s efforts through the My Skills Program, which works to create strong communication between young professionals and mentors by tracking the progress of the learner and the skills that they acquire. He added that My Skills program exists outside of PMP because including it might weaken the program’s effectiveness.
The early bird avoids the risk: Lachlan Peter, from Project Management Office Department, stated that Saudi Aramco’s risk management strategy is primarily risk avoidance. This is accomplished by working closely with the proponent departments in the early planning stages to understand their goals and how certain risks can be avoided, but still working to fulfill their need. Peter emphasized that there are many opportunities to avoid risk before awarding contracts. However, other strategies might be used after awarding the contract. He emphasized looking at corporate goals beyond the project’s objectives in managing project risks.
A success story: Mohammed Natour, manager of King Abdullah University Science & Technology Utilities and Thuwal Development Projects Department, talked about the success story of the Khurais project, which was one of biggest projects to be completed in a single phase. He mentioned that two of the factors that contributed to completing the project ahead of schedule were team work and fostering trust. He emphasized the importance of building a team spirit between contractors and Aramcons by holding team activities.
“It didn’t matter what side they were from,” Natour said of the participants, who formed teams without regard to whether they were a contractor or a company employee.
MANAMA, Bahrain, February 09, 2011 — In the Middle East — as around the world — water is a precious resource. At the Water Arabia 2011 Conference in Bahrain, the focus was protecting those precious reserves and ensuring an adequate supply for future generations.
Environmental engineer Mohammed A. Al-Hajri details Saudi Aramco’s comprehensive water conservation strategy to delegates at the Water Arabia 2011 Conference in Manama, Bahrain.
(Photos: Stephen L. Brundage)
Saudi Aramco executives and employees played key roles at the conference with the goal of sharing the company’s expertise with businesses and municipalities throughout the GCC.
More than 850 wastewater and water-treatment engineers and service providers attended the three-day event, which included design workshops along with a two-day exhibition and technical program.
Executive director of Community Services Nabeel A. Al-Jama’ headed the organizing committee and opened the conference with a welcome speech to the plenary session.
“Water Arabia 2011 was organized to highlight the magnitude of the water sustainability problem and to provide solutions,” Al-Jama’ said. “We hope to promote communication between all water industry leaders and professionals to better address the vital issue of water sustainability. Together, we can use sustainable technologies and policies to help prevent future water shortages.”
“The Middle East’s population is growing, yet water resources are increasingly stressed due to climate change,” said former WEF president Dr. Mohammad Dahab, who chairs the Department of Civil Engineering at University of Nebraska. “Climate change is not about global warming but about changes in the hydrologic cycle.”
Dahab noted that wastewater reuse will become increasingly important and that the region must build its reuse capacity. He said human resources, policies and the regulatory framework as well as institutional, financial and societal buy-in to ideas about water scarcity all must be addressed if we are going to solve the problems.
Dr. Gary Amy of the KAUST Water, Desalination and Reuse Center discussed new ideas in transforming wastewater into high-quality drinking water.
He said new membrane bioreactor (MBR) technologies were key to a sustainable future, noting filtration systems use less energy than existing thermal technologies. He also said that using ultraviolet disinfection methods created far fewer byproducts than older technologies.
Amy said the region should start considering recharging of its underground aquifers as well as membrane, oxidation and absorption technologies. In the future, he said, reclaimed water markets might be developed and we must think about capturing storm water, which would also benefit communities hit by flooding.
Mohammed A. Al-Hajri of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) laid out Saudi Aramco’s water conservation strategies.
He said the company’s goal was to reduce current freshwater consumption by 70 percent before 2020 through maximizing reuse of wastewater streams and optimizing water consumption. He said Saudi Aramco would improve monitoring throughout its operations and promote conservation awareness among employees and their families.
Bahrain Minister of Electricity and Water Affairs HE Fahmi Bin Aljowder, second from left, visits the Saudi Aramco exhibit at Water Arabia 2011. Employees were on hand to lend their expertise and share the company’s experiences with water quality, wastewater treatment and conservation issues.
Membrane bioreactors were a popular topic throughout the event, and engineer Subhi A. Al-Aama of EPD detailed Saudi Aramco’s significant experience with the new technology. He said the company has designed 17 MBR wastewater treatment plants in the past five years in accordance with the Kingdom’s conservation and reuse policies.
Al-Aaama said the new plants reduce what had been a five-step process to a two-step process and that they offer increased efficiency, easier automation and better adaptability for remote areas. He said MBR plants were the company’s preferred solution and delivered better-quality water for 20 percent less cost.
Saudi Aramco is continuing its membrane research and exploring new uses for wastewater. Al-Aama said existing traditional water-treatment plants could be converted to MBR plants and he expected at some point, the operation of the plants could be outsourced to vendors that meet the strict international standards the company maintains.
Engineering consultant William G. Conner of EPD gave a presentation on oily wastewater-reuse technologies and described the research that led to a patented new membrane bioreactor technology that has been pilot plant tested and will be commercialized in partnership with Siemens Water Technologies.
Conner said the patented process improves recovery, minimizes costs and has applications for refineries, inland gas plants and marine terminals.
Engineer Subhi M. Jeshi of Consulting Services shared the company’s experiences with water conservation through water pinch analysis, in which water use is evaluated by source and end use by computer modeling to optimize its use and treatment.
He said ideas generated through the program resulted in a 31 percent savings in terms of groundwater usage.
Engineer Fahad M. Senayin of Abqaiq Plants Operations discussed his department’s efforts to simplify steam generation water treatment. The system recycles 85 percent of the steam back to condensate, which is then processed and sent through the system again.
Since 2010, the department has been involved in the three-phase program to optimize the process, which will result in a system using less chemicals, more automation, improved monitoring and better stability of control.
Dhahran’s North Wastewater Treatment Plant took the spotlight when Mahmoud A. Moaikel of the Utilities Department and Alfa Laval contractor partner Desmond Chan detailed the construction of the plant that serves the wastewater needs of Dhahran, Doha and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.
They discussed the challenges of putting a treatment facility in a populated area and how the use of decanter centrifuges ensure improved air quality for area residents.
Utilities engineer Rabea M. Manakhah and engineer David G. Evans also discussed the North Wastewater Treatment Plant and the study that led to the installation of mechanical aerators that have reduced maintenance and energy consumption as well as costs.
The event was organized by the Saudi Arabian Water Environment Association, the International Desalination Association, and the Water Environment Federation under the patronage of the Bahrain Electricity and Water Authority. Saudi Aramco’s Environmental Protection Department and Utilities Department were the main sponsors.