Downstream Invests in Young Workforce
From the mountain villages of the Asir, they come. From the black tents of the Najd and the small cities of the Eastern Province, they come. From the glistening schools of Riyadh and Jiddah and the coastal plain of Jazan, they come. They are the apprentices, and what is in their hearts and minds, and their skills, will shape the future of Saudi Aramco.
“An active recruitment program has been seeking out and identifying potential candidates from all over the Kingdom.”
vice president of Refining and NGL Fractionation, Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco’s industrial workforce – its operators, welders, machinists and electricians, as well as a dozen other occupations – is the heart of its success, said Mohammed Omair, vice president of Refining and NGL Fractionation.
The company’s Downstream organization is faced with the one-two punch of an aging workforce – up to 50 percent of Downstream’s industrial workforce will change in the next few years – and rapid job growth brought on by changes in technology and company initiatives such as the chemicals business, new refineries and an expanding international presence.
In 2009, Downstream developed a strategy for meeting its need for industrial talent. Currently 3,000 industrial workforce members, including those in Downstream and domestic joint ventures such as SATORP, SADARA and YASREF, are at various stages in their two to three years of training, including apprentices and new trainees.
That number is not expected to drop over the next few years, said Omair. “An active recruitment program has been seeking out and identifying potential candidates from all over the Kingdom,” he added.
It is a monumental undertaking and one which provides a major challenge to Downstream’s apprenticeship and new employee training programs.
Apprentices undergo a minimum of 18 months of training. They are given 50 hours of safety training, said Richard Weidel, Downstream safety coordinator. “We want them to come on the job knowing how to be safe and treat the equipment safely.” If successful in completing training, apprentices are hired into the industrial workforce.
All apprentices go through a detailed on-the-job-training (OJT) program that is based on specific training for a specific plant and piece of equipment, and supported with documented procedures extracted from operating instruction manual. This OJT program is critical to providing young workers with real operation practices to conduct safe operation.
Other training plans include providing Refining and NGLF plant specific simulators for each organization, customized to operate based on specific process flow diagrams. The simulators give users as close to a real experience as can be achieved, and in an area where experience is a significant productivity multiplier. Training simulators allow for hands-on scenario based training that teaches operators how to deal with normal and emergency situations without compromising the actual plant, worker safety or the environment.
“The sheer number of people we’ll be training in a relatively short period of time is staggering,” said Omair. “Getting it right is going to be one of the great challenges facing the company and our new industrial workforce.”
(Article by David Tschanz)
Vehicle Captures Carbon Dioxide
Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center (R&DC) has developed and tested a prototype vehicle to demonstrate the viability of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, thereby reducing potential impact of combustion engines on the environment. This is the first time in the world for a research center to develop and test such a technology.
In only 18 months, R&DC conceived the idea, completed the design and made the prototype pickup vehicle, which demonstrated the concept will work. The results show that the truck is capable of capturing an average of 10 percent of CO2 emissions.
“I commend the efforts,” said Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO, during a recent demonstration of the truck. “… [It is a] learning experience.”
The technology reduces emissions by separating and storing CO2 from the exhaust stream while avoiding impacting the engine design or performance. It is powered using heat that is normally wasted, project leader Esam Z. Al-Hamad said.
The goal is to have cars outfitted with this technology to unload the CO2 while refueling. Saudi Aramco and other research centers are conducting studies on ways to benefit from the stored CO2.
“The current size of the technology fits a truck because the research team intentionally overdesigned and sized the different components and added extra equipment for testing purposes using off-the-shelf parts,” said Senior. Lab Scientist Wajdi E. Sadat. The research team is working to refine the design, reducing the size of the system to fit on a passenger car, he added.
This first-of-a-kind prototype positions the R&DC as a leader in CO2 capture from mobile sources. Five provisional patents were submitted by the team based on the knowledge gained during research for the project.
A preliminary competitiveness study by a respected consulting group, on the technology commissioned by R&DC, shows that a 70 percent reduction in the emitted CO2 from spark ignition engines would far outstrip most available emissions reduction technologies. Currently, the only technology that would allow for the achievement of such emissions targets would be vehicle electrification, which is expensive, both in the cost of the technology, and in the expense of developing the appropriate manufacturing and recharging infrastructure. R&DC is developing a technology that that operates on existing compression and spark ignition engines, which will make it a competitive alternative.
YASREF Joint Venture Formed
Saudi Aramco and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) have agreed to formation of a joint venture related to the ongoing development of Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company (YASREF) Limited, formerly the Red Sea Refining Company.
“YASREF is uniquely placed to seize market opportunities, and it demonstrates our unwavering commitment to significantly grow our downstream portfolio, and in creating win-win partnerships for us and our stakeholders.”
Khalid A. Al-Falih
President and CEO, Saudi Aramco
The agreement brings together two world-class companies to complete the construction and operate a highly competitive full-conversion refinery in Yanbu’.
Presided over by His Excellency, Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and chairman of the Saudi Aramco Board of Directors, leaders of the two companies — Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, and Fu Chengyu, chairman of the Sinopec Group – formally announced the agreement in Dhahran on Saturday.
The joint venture agreement follows a Memorandum of Understanding between Saudi Aramco and Sinopec, signed in March 2011. Following Saturday’s JV agreement, Sinopec will hold equity interest of 37.5 percent in YASREF, with Saudi Aramco holding the remaining 62.5 percent.
The YASREF joint venture marks another significant phase of several progressing partnerships between Saudi Aramco and Sinopec across the hydrocarbon value chain in Saudi Arabia and in China. Saudi Aramco and Sinopec both bring significant knowledge and expertise to the joint venture, which represents the strengthening of their strategic partnership to enhance the trade of transportation fuels between a major energy producer and a major consumer. In-Kingdom refineries, such as the one being built by YASREF, possess the location advantage to supply domestic and international markets to the East and West.
“Our mutually progressing partnership with Sinopec has continued to flourish across the hydrocarbon value chain from crude oil supply to refining and petrochemicals in Fujian to YASREF today, and is a testimony of our continued efforts to enhance collaboration between the two companies,” Al-Falih said. “YASREF, being Sinopec’s first international downstream investment, will definitely strengthen further the longstanding bond between the two companies, and I am confident it will also yield mutual benefits for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People’s Republic of China.
“YASREF is uniquely placed to seize market opportunities, and it demonstrates our unwavering commitment to significantly grow our downstream portfolio, and in creating win-win partnerships for us and our stakeholders,” Al-Falih added. “Among YASREF’s many contributions will be to provide training, employment and industrial and economic development opportunities for Saudi nationals and for the growth of local enterprises.”
“Sinopec and Saudi Aramco have enjoyed substantial cooperation in the fields of gas exploration, oil refining, oil trade, and engineering services. The implementation of this project will usher in a new chapter for Sinopec’s investment in refinery and petrochemical projects in Saudi Arabia,” Fu said. “It will also help to extend the strategic cooperation of the two companies in the petroleum and petrochemical value chain, and further strengthen the complementary strategic partnership of the two parties. Sinopec is very pleased to contribute to the already solid economic ties between China and Saudi Arabia, whilst furthering our commitment to social responsibility and the pursuit of green, low-carbon development.”
Sinopec has partnered with Saudi Aramco, along with ExxonMobil, in the Fujian Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited, and Sinopec SenMei (Fujian) Petroleum Company Limited in China’s Fujian Province, as well as with Sino Saudi Gas Limited, an in-Kingdom gas exploration company. Sinopec, the biggest Asian-owned refiner operating in Asia, is also Saudi Aramco’s largest crude oil buyer.
The YASREF project involves construction of a new “grassroots” refinery on the Yanbu` site covering over 5.2 million square meters. With construction well underway, the project is on schedule with 10 percent of construction completed.
The YASREF refinery is scheduled to be operational in the second half of 2014. The refinery will process 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Arabian Heavy crude oil and will produce high-quality transportation fuels that meet the most stringent refined product specifications for domestic and international markets. The refinery is set to have the capacity to produce 90,000 bpd of gasoline, 263,000 bpd of ultra-low-sulfur diesel, along with by-products consisting of 6,200 metric tons per day of petroleum coke and 1,200 metric tons per day of sulfur.
Saudi Aramco’s extensive and integrated hydrocarbon facilities in Yanbu’ will be utilized to supply crude oil feedstock to YASREF and to export transportation fuels. The refinery project includes mega-processing units, utilities and interconnecting piping, associated crude oil and refined product storage, as well as the offsite facilities necessary to support the safe and efficient operation of the refinery.
YASREF will also provide a platform for increased industrial development in the Yanbu’ area, supporting the expansion of the domestic economy and providing job opportunities for Saudis, as well as local enterprises. It is estimated that the refinery will create 1,200 direct and 5,000 indirect employment opportunities. Additionally, YASREF’s primary contractors will hire and train many Saudi engineers and technicians in various technical and administrative fields during the project’s execution phase.
It is expected that approximately 60 percent of the total project value will be spent in Saudi Arabia through detailed engineering executed in local design offices, material procurement from local manufacturers and suppliers, and the utilization of Saudi construction companies. In addition, new technology consisting of petroleum coking will be implemented as part of this project.
Company Supports PMU’s IT Chair
Saudi Aramco and Prince Mohammed bin Fahd University (PMU) joined forces recently to inaugurate an academic chair for Information Technology at the school.
In attendance at the ceremony were Dr. Issa Ansari, lector of PMU, and Hany K. Abu Khadra, executive director for Information Technology at Saudi Aramco.
A workshop attended by Saudi Aramco employees and PMU faculty members was held at the ceremony, at which a number of topics included best practices in the field and planned research projects for the chair.
Saudi Aramco will sponsor the chair for the next three years. The chair will identify challenges facing domestic companies and institutions in the Kingdom and pursue solutions.
The chair will become a scientific platform to suggest areas of research related to the company’s business. Also, advancements in IT add to the Kingdom’s global competitiveness. The chair will not only conduct research but also host workshops, conferences and act as a conduit between academic experts and those working in the private sector.
Saudi Aramco has a history supporting excellence in scientific research in the Kingdom, Abu Khadra said, noting that the company has sponsored several chairs at national universities. The Information Technology admin area will support this chair in cooperation with PMU as part of Saudi Aramco’s efforts to achieve excellence in scientific research.
Ansari said the university is allocating more resources to research by establishing a Deanship for higher studies and research as well as crafting a strategic plan to recruit researchers in fields important to the Kingdom.
Abu Khadra said that through this joint effort, Saudi Aramco is also striving to bring researchers to the Kingdom to contribute to development of the educational program at the university.
Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture has joined hands with the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) to encourage the donation and return of Saudi Arabian archeological artifacts currently in private collections around the world.
Saudi Aramco signed an agreement with the SCTA on Dec. 26 to cooperate in recovering valuable heritage artifacts. “The antiquities are national treasure and all efforts to recover them are highly appreciated,” said HRH Prince Sultan ibn Salman, SCTA chairman.
In a letter to retirees, Mae Mozaini, director of Public Affairs at Aramco Services Company in Houston, Texas, said that Aramcons and their dependents had, over the decades, developed a number of collections of Saudi antiquities, large and small, often motivated by a desire to preserve them for posterity. “Saudi Aramco and the SCTA are deeply grateful to all who have rescued and preserved antiquities of the Kingdom,” she said.
She said that Saudi Aramco is extending a special invitation to all who have — or think they may have — such artifacts to consider donating them to the National Museum in Riyadh. The types of artifacts sought are not related to Aramco, but rather they are objects of national historical interest, with an emphasis on pre-Islamic archeological objects.
In return, donors of significant items will receive a Certificate of Appreciation from Saudi Aramco’s president and CEO, and be named, with the artifacts they donated, on a plaque displayed at the Center.
They will also be invited to attend a ceremony of thanks in Riyadh planned for Feb. 11-13 followed by a tour of major sites of archeological interest. The ceremony will coincide with the annual National Heritage Festival at Janadriyah, which will include an exhibition of recovered antiquities at the National Museum in Riyadh.
Those who believe they have — or may have — objects that could qualify for a “homecoming” to the Kingdom’s museums are asked to take a photo or two of the object(s) and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org before Jan. 16. The information can also be sent by regular mail to Arthur Clark, Aramco Services Company, MS 546, 9009 West Loop South, Houston, TX 77096.
Donations of significant artifacts will be accepted after Jan. 16, but to be considered to attend the recognition ceremony in Riyadh, individuals must send photos and information about artifacts before that date.