Category Archive: Saudi Aramco News
After recently exporting its first high-quality diesel fuel, YASREF reached another milestone last week by loading 49,000 tons of petcoke.
The loading was based on a fully automated process starting from processing and production through to shipping from the newly equipped Pier No. 69 in Yanbu’ Industrial City.
Marking the occasion, Mohammad S. Al-Shammari, YASREF president and CEO, said: “Having applied the highest safety standards today, we exported the first petcoke shipment from the Red Sea coast based on a fully automated process across production stages through export under the world’s strictest specifications and standards.”
Al-Shammari emphasized the value of petcoke. “The petcoke is of great importance since it is derived from Arabian crude, increasing the added value of this type of petroleum, which contains more energy and less ash, making it the optimal industrial fuel for power generation in many industries targeting lower operating costs and higher production capacity at the same time,” he said. “Furthermore, the petcoke production from the Arabian oil comes in line with Saudi Aramco’s strategy to make the most of its oil resources to promote Saudi industries, maximize their effectiveness in national development and meet the global market needs, apart from achieving the objectives of its strategic partners in creating added value for all products.”
YASREF is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec), with Saudi Aramco retaining a 62.5 percent equity share and Sinopec retaining a 37.5 percent equity share.
The refinery construction was completed ahead of schedule and within budget to become one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated refineries. YASREF is a full conversion refinery with a refining capacity of 400,000 bpd of Arabian Heavy crude oil, which is fully converted to pure and high quality petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel, benzene, granular sulfur, and petroleum coke.
A breakthrough study by some Saudi Aramco scientists, engineers and environmentalists, supported by the company’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) regulations, has identified an alternative source of injection water that will help to conserve the Kingdom’s scarce groundwater reserves.
In the late 1970s, Saudi Aramco began the process of replacing all low total dissolved solids (TDS) — groundwater being used for waterflood operations with processed seawater from the Qurayyah plant. The company had also been considering the extension of this practice to the few remaining fields that are still using groundwater with much higher TDS. However, today, there is an alternative — secondary treated sewage effluent (TSE).
Traditionally, sewage and other waste water are collected from urban areas for safe disposal. This is mainly sanitary wastewater and rain water, while in some instances, the wastewater may contain minimal amounts of industrial waste. These are all collected and transported through the sewer system to the municipality wastewater treatment plants for treatment prior to disposal. Currently, a small portion of the treated effluent is being reused while efforts are ongoing to improve and upgrade the distribution network’s capacity for increased TSE utilization.
TSE is considered a valuable source of water given its quality and many potential uses, one of which is irrigation. This is by far the most common application of TSE today, as more than 74 percent of Saudi Aramco’s generated sanitary wastewater from its facilities and communities is being treated and used for irrigation.
Maximizing wastewater reuse is one of Saudi Aramco’s Water Conservation Strategy pillars. The drive to enhance water source sustainability and explore use of TSE as an alternative for existing reservoir injection waters aligns with this conservation policy. Saudi Aramco subsequently carried out a study to evaluate the use of TSE from nearby cities such as Riyadh that is currently being disposed and not beneficially reused for water injection at the Nuayyim and Khurais fields.
The study is the first corporate assessment with involvement of representatives from various corporate departments, including EPD, Research and Development Center (R&DC), EXPEC ARC, the Facilities Planning Department (FPD), the Southern Area Production Engineering Department (SAPED), the Reservoir Management Department (RMD), the Sea Water Injection Department (SWID) and the Khurais Producing Department (KhPD), which hosted the study. There were four focus areas: supply and reliability of TSE plants; quality and compatibility; environmental policies; and economic feasibility.
The study concluded that TSE is an environmentally reliable and compatible alternative to current injection waters used to recover oil (i.e., aquifer water or seawater). Furthermore, the TSE has been found to reduce scale and limit any incompatibility effect to the reservoir formation.
Nidal Samad, senior environmental scientist, said that Saudi Aramco’s EPD is playing a major role in implementing the company’s Water Conservation Policy and ensuring that the Kingdom’s water resources are sustainably utilized. “EPD establishes mandates, provides technical support, and monitors for compliance,” he said.
“As for this initiative, the use of TSE provides a more sustainable water source than groundwater which EPD, R&DC, and EXPEC ARC have encouraged by working closely with the Khurais Producing Department team to successfully complete this study.”
Ali A. Hamed, general supervisor from the South Ghawar Producing Department, who previously acted as the KhPD Engineering superintendent and leader of TSE assessment sub-teams, added, “Such a promising and encouraging finding by the team encourages us to explore in detail the potential for pilot deployment in the future.”
Tony Rizk, science specialist at R&DC and member of the TSE quality assessment team, explained, “Groundwater is a precious national asset, and the corporate work that has been carried out has demonstrated that largely wasted TSE can be used to generate wealth and preserve shallow aquifer water for future generations.”
EXPEC ARC petroleum engineer Peter Osode acknowledged that “significant flow assurance risk associated with onshore development in a challenging ‘hard-water’ reservoir environment has placed limitations on the use of sulfate-rich injection seawater, and therefore, TSE opens up a new vista of opportunity for reducing fluid compatibility risks and enhancing economic value of our assets.”
Ahmed Otaibi, senior engineer from KhPD, who led the reliability and sustainability assessment team, indicated that this initiative serves the national interest in finding wiser ways to use increasing Kingdom’s excess wastewater by the industries.
“The study confirms that the TSE has high potential for use as injection water in either new developments or at existing fields of close proximity to TSE plants. It could also have a good potential for use in some reservoir fracturing operations.
“There was always a lingering thought about the prospects of utilizing this unused asset — TSE for reservoir injection. This thought has been finally crystallized through a corporate multidisciplinary team that has successfully established a new horizon for our company’s future business operations,” he said.
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is an extension of Saudi Aramco’s corporate vision and a continuation of its work to create a knowledge based society. Its opening is just a year away.
By creating the Center, Saudi Aramco is taking the long view to ensure sustainable development in the Kingdom. Its emphasis is on arts and creativity, fun and interactive approach to the STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and history — and plans to offer lifelong learning classes to the public at large.
The Kingdom possesses a new generation of people with original ideas, skills, and motivation with potential to compete on a global level. This new generation will need to collaborate with idea makers from other nations, mix the previously considered unmixable fields of arts and science, and learn to accept failure as a necessary step to an even more rewarding success.
Game-changing cultural shifts such as this can only come from a broadly educated population with a deep-rooted understanding of history and culture, the right balance of soft and technical skills and empowerment, a strong infrastructure that adheres to international quality standards for goods and services, and the opportunity to succeed.
The collaboration extends to Saudi universities and government agencies such as the Ministry of Education, local cultural institutions, and businesses such as the Saudi Society for Arts and Culture, alongside world-class institutions such as UC-Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, MIT and the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. The Center is keen to offer these organizations opportunities to showcase and develop their unique qualities and areas of expertise.
For more information, visit the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture website.
Ten best innovations selected for recognition from among 148 contributions, ranging from aerial detection of oil spills to amendments to radios, desktops, security gates, and drilling rigs. Once implemented on a larger scale and in the right business lines, they will all actively contribute to facilitating future operations.
Thamer Tarabzouni, a consultant with Saudi Aramco Information Technology’s eMap Division, not only envisaged the scenario of an oil spill that might contaminate the waters of the Arabian Gulf, but was also inspired to use his long experience and come up with a new innovation that would make his division’s operations easier in the face of such a catastrophe. His idea — an aerial monitoring system — became a reality less than a year after it first sparked in his mind.
“It is a great pleasure at seeing creative innovations that facilitate and enhance Saudi Aramco’s operations“, Abdulaziz Al-Abdulkarim, executive director of Information Technology said. “IT recognizes and appreciates the value of the initiatives that serve and support the development of the company’s onshore and offshore operations.”
“A closer look at the ideas will reveal that all of them are creative ideas that save time, effort and cost, and represent a successful and better alternative to support operations in the IT sector. We are confident that with further encouragement, a firmly established approach of Saudi Aramco’s that is in line with the 2020 vision, we will see more creativity and innovation,” he added.
Al-Abdulkarim stressed the role of technology incubators in Saudi Aramco, such as the IT Future Center in Dhahran.
“No proposed idea, whatever it is, should be dismissed. We have a system in IT that lives up to the company’s aspirations and strategic vision. We are very proud that our employees developed innovations that inspired some of Saudi Aramco contracted companies; they managed to find solutions to the technical problems that these companies grappled with,” he said.
Monitoring oil spills
Tarabzouni tells that it began in the Remote Sensing Unit building in the eMaps Division when he decided that there must be a more professional, accurate and large-scale method of monitoring oil spills that may occur in the Arabian Gulf, a major oil shipping lane.
“The quickest way available to us was to use a satellite named Cosmo that sends two images a day. However, this way needs prior arrangement through a special application to request the images within a two-day window. This is the reason why I decided at the beginning of 2013 to develop a new way,” Tarabzouni added.
He said that it was not until a few months after the idea first struck him that it turned into his daily reality, with field trials and regular communications with various suppliers of this technology, until it was decided that an agreement be signed with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), as a step toward the drafting of a final action plan for the drone.
“The aerial monitor is equipped with a digital camera and a night vision camera, and flies at a maximum altitude of 5,000 meters. It can take and directly transmit clear photos. The initiative is now in its final stages. The technology has been approved for use in the company’s operations, and a final contract is being signed with KACST to bring a number of the devices soon.”
Saving wireless communications devices
The innovation of Marzouq A. Shihab, a support telecommunications technician in Abqaiq’s IT division, focuses on the development of Industrial Security’s stationary wired radios at the company’s gates and offices that oversee drilling activities.
He revealed “The idea struck me at the beginning of 2014 after increasing problems and the failure of some wireless communications devices due to misuse and high loads. I have introduced a number of amendments to the new transmitter model.”
The amendments made by Shihab took months of hard work and his creative thinking paid off later. Device temperature went down, the number of broken devices plummeted, and valuable time that was previously taken up by maintenance work was saved.
Controlling battery hydrogen content
Abdullah Y. Al-Hassan, an employee in the Tanajib IT Division, zones in on sparing communications buildings fire disasters that may result from overheating in backup battery rooms.
Al-Hassan explained: “These batteries give off explosive hydrogen gas, which increases the risk of fire at any moment. My idea is centered on installing a device to monitor the volume and weight of hydrogen in the battery room to control any increase in the hydrogen content, which should not exceed four percent of the air in the room.”
Sensors that were born in Hassan’s mind as a radical solution to the growing dangers of battery rooms, have now become an essential feature of the buildings housing these batteries.
“These devices will be linked to the monitoring and control centers in the central IT Control Department in Dhahran,” Al-Hassan added.
Basim Al-Ruwaii, manager of the Communications Operations Department, praised the efforts of the IT employees: “The innovations and creative ideas whose pioneers were recognized highlight the efforts made by the IT staff to come up with solutions and ideas that improve the department’s operations and serve Saudi Aramco’s best interests.
“These initiatives are relevant to Saudi Aramco’s employees’ everyday work and the daily challenges they face to provide energy and continue the company’s successes. We, are confident that these innovations will directly contribute to the improvement of the company’s functions and operations, as well as to the development of the way in which Saudi Aramco’s various operations and activities are conducted,” Al-Ruwaii concluded.
Aramco Asia’s five new websites were officially launched last week by Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih.
“The new Aramco Asia websites mark a new era for the digital communication in this rapidly growing region,” said Al-Falih. “In addition to increasing corporate brand awareness, these websites will also support our business growth in these dynamic markets by making us more accessible to our business partners and customers with a local and cultural touch.
Celebrating the addition of the five new websites, Saudi Aramco’s executive director of Corporate Affairs Nasser A. Al Nafisee, said: “The websites will deliver value to all business functions by better engaging key stakeholders, helping them carry out their operations more effectively and bridging any gaps between the Aramco enterprise and its business partners. This is all part of our quest to be the world’s leading supplier of energy and petrochemicals in 2020.”
The development of these websites presented Aramco Asia with both challenges and opportunities. The key communications objectives across all four key Asian markets stem from the digital channel strategy and mark the culmination of a three-month “discovery” phase to fully understand the audiences, businesses, and competition. The team also worked to ensure a first-class user experience and to create a brand-consistent digital presence for the world’s leading energy supplier.
But the challenge was how to adapt these communication objectives to each market, in terms of outlining the content strategy and functional requirements. The key point of differentiation lies in the localized content of each website and the way it is communicated to its intended audience: Business partners; customers; suppliers; and specialized interest groups such as prospective employees, academics, or the media.
The websites will raise the profile of the company in the emerging Asian region while providing a solid communications platform to showcase the company’s abundant business opportunities. They cater to the needs of the offices in China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, which serve 10 markets across the Asia-Pacific region.
Visit the websites at: