Category Archive: Saudi Aramco News
Five departments across Saudi Aramco received the 2014 President’s Award for Environmental Excellence.
The award was developed more than a decade ago to motivate company organizations to intensify their efforts towards environmental protection.
The nominees for the 2014 awards involved more than 250 initiatives from more than 45 company departments.
Acting president and CEO Amin H. Nasser noted in his address at the awards ceremony that Saudi Aramco has a deep-rooted commitment to environmental stewardship that dates back more than 50 years.
“We’ve taken that approach in all that we do — from the design of our facilities and developing innovative technologies, to a stringent air and water quality monitoring system,” Nasser said, citing the company’s reduction in flaring to essentially zero by the 1980s as an example.
As a result of the strong foundation laid in the early years, the company is reducing its emissions, recycling more waste, conserving more water and protecting marine and terrestrial habitats, as well as ensuring food quality is in compliance with environmental health standards.
“You’re showing the world that it’s possible to provide energy to billions of people for their development and protect the precious natural environment. You’re showing the world that our industry can, and does, choose sustainability as a key business imperative. And you’re showing the world that our industry doesn’t have to be led by regulation,” he said. “It’s simply the right thing to do for our environment.”
The list of winning departments for 2014 includes:
‘Uthmaniyah Gas Plant Department
Khurais Producing Department
Support Service Organization
Southern Area Well Completion Operations Department
Most Improved Operating Organization
Western Region Distribution Department
Most Improved Support Service Organization
Mechanical Services Shops Department
Saudi Aramco has taken on a leading role in the development of an industry-wide coalition created to share best practices, address key risks, and catalyze meaningful action and coordination on climate change.
The coalition came together at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in New York last year.
This year’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress & Exhibition conversation included Saudi Aramco’s global fuels research program and the opportunities it gives engineers to think outside the box in engine design.
Saudi Aramco’s fuel research goal is to create efficient, sustainable and affordable transport solutions for the future, and this means not just improving fuels and engines, but discovering the fuel of the future and matching it to the engine of the future.
Stringent fuel economy and emissions standards worldwide, and the concern for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport-related emissions, are driving innovation and new approaches in engines, fuels and materials.
“We bring a unique perspective due to our understanding of the refining side of the business, the future supply and demand outlook, and engine requirements, so we know what the automakers are looking for,” said Amer Amer, chief technologist of Fuels Technology, Saudi Aramco Research & Development Center (R&DC). “The work that we are doing brings this all together.”
David Cleary, leader of the Aramco Research Center-Detroit, presented on global transportation trends, internal combustion engine challenges and fuel opportunities, and the fuels technology research at Saudi Aramco.
“Fuels have evolved, and will be expected to continue to evolve, to meet the needs of transportation,” said Cleary. “The key to getting to that future is to put all the right talent into the same room — from the very fundamental researcher to the automotive expert with significant production experience, who understands what it takes to move transport technologies into the market.
“We see technology advanced through people, both at Aramco locations around the world and with the major collaboration partners we have in industry and academia,” he said.
In the technical program, Saudi Aramco was well-represented by Gautam Kalghatgi, principal professional at the R&DC and Junseok Chang, Engine Combustion & Efficiency team leader.
Kalghatgi presented “A Simple Method to Predict Knock using Toluene, Iso-Octane, N-Heptane Blends (TPRF) as Gasoline Surrogates” and was an invited expert on the “Fuel/Engine Interactions” panel. SAE published a book authored by Kalghatgi with the same title in 2014.
“We have a unique opportunity at Saudi Aramco to do a lot of interesting and extremely important strategic research,” he said, noting that engines are changing to be more efficient and cleaner, and the worldwide demand structure is changing, “which will have a big impact on the kinds of fuels and engines that will be in place in just a few years, to 25 years from now.”
Chang delivered two papers at the World Congress: “Octane-on-Demand as an Enabler for Highly Efficient Spark Ignition Engines” and “Improvement of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Characterization of High Efficiency Octane-on-Demand Fuels Requirement in a Modern Spark Ignition Engine with Dual Injection System.”
Aramco’s fuels program is led by Saudi Aramco’s R&DC in Dhahran, with additional centers located at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal; a collaboration with the independent research organization IFPen in Paris; and the Detroit center.
Saudi Aramco and its Southern Area Oil Operations (SAOO) continues to lead the way in innovation in the oil and gas industry and is an example of operational excellence, the 2015 SAOO Innovation Campaign and Exhibition was recently told by senior management.
The three-day event showcased the best innovations by employees and teams from across SAOO and several service companies.
At an opening ceremony attended by SAOO management and distinguished guests, the importance of pursuing innovation and excellence was underlined by keynote speaker, Saudi Aramco’s chief technology officer, Ahmed Al-Khowaiter. The Southern Area Producing general manager Bader F. Al-Qadran, gave a speech addressing the importance of innovation to Saudi Aramco and to SAOO.
In the opening speech held by the latter, it was highlighted that Saudi Aramco and SAOO continues to strengthen and sustain a robust, creative and innovative organizational culture: “The most successful individuals, managers and team leaders in the latest business world are the ones who not only innovate in their own work, but who encourage and assist others to be innovative in every aspect of their work. SAOO believes that innovation is a key enabler for improved business productivity and underpins the competitiveness of all SAOO departments. The innovation is all about creating new values.”, Al-Quadran said.
He added that, for Saudi Aramco, it is imperative to remain at the forefront of new technologies to maximize hydrocarbon recovery and support the company’s expansion into chemicals and higher value derivatives.
Al-Khowaiter told the audience that innovation and technology have always played a pivotal role in Saudi Aramco’s business.
“From the early days of exploration and production to the present day where these drivers underpin our strategic intent to emerge as a global, integrated energy and chemicals company by the end of the decade, our drive for technological competitiveness has led to a dramatic expansion of our capabilities across several technology domains in both the upstream and downstream sectors,” the chief technology officer said.
Al-Khowaiter pointed out that 80% of innovations considered to be the most significant are invented, prototyped and first field tested by the end users of that technology, drawing on the conclusions of Eric A. von Hipple, professor at the Sloan School of Management, MIT.
“This observation is very significant,” Al-Khowaiter said, “because many of the most significant innovations and technology improvements are generated at the business unit or operational level, and the impact of these improvements and their quick and efficient deployment into operations cannot be overemphasized.
“Examples of some key technology innovations include expanding our use of predictive analytics to use past failure information to anticipate future unreliability events. We’re employing virtualization and 3D visualization of plants to perform virtual walk-throughs, viewing equipment remotely at workstations.”
Al-Khowaiter also pointed to the development of advanced inspection technologies using robotics and advanced sensors. He noted the company’s growing world-scale support networks to enable further strides forward in innovation and technology: “We have doubled our technology workforce in the last five years and we hope to grow by another 30% in the coming years.”
Expanding research footprint
Saudi Aramco’s expansion of its research footprint globally is evidenced in the opening of its Global Research Centers (GRCs) located in innovation hubs in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Al-Khowaiter added.
Saudi Aramco’s research efforts now span the globe with GRCs carrying out ground-breaking research in Houston, Texas, Boston, Detroit in North America, Aberdeen, Scotland, Delft, the Netherlands and Paris, France. Centers are also operating in KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, the recently inaugurated Beijing, China GRC, and in Daejeon, South Korea.
Al-Khowaiter added: “Operations in our global centers and technology offices cover a wide range of research areas and are each designed to place our scientists and researchers in a position to collaborate with world-class partners to foster new thinking and to develop new approaches and new solutions to global energy challenges. New innovations allow Saudi Aramco to position itself as one of the foremost creators of technologies.”
The three-day event exhibited the best innovations of a range of SAOO’s plant, producing and operation instances as well as several service companies that participated in the exhibition and showed their innovative ideas and their applicability in Saudi Aramco operations. These companies included Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, GE and Yokogawa.
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.