Al-Othman Says Value Lies in Chemicals

20 June 2011 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by Saudi Aramco News

AL KHOBAR, June 15, 2011 — Saudi Aramco is challenged to produce more value from its abundance of oil and gas, and that value lies to a great degree in chemicals, the senior vice president of Finance recently told the Saudi chapter of the American Chemical Society.

Abdullatif A. Al-Othman Abdullatif A. Al-Othman
Photo by Saudi Aramco News

“Our nation and our region have a strong foundation for the chemicals industry – and we should be very proud of it – but we also have a tremendous amount of unrealized upside potential, especially with much more sophisticated, higher-value chemical products,” Abdullatif A. Al-Othman said during a speech in al-Khobar.

“Despite the significant chemicals businesses we already have, and despite Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region’s tremendous comparative advantage in producing oil and gas, the precursors of many chemicals,” he said, “we have not nearly realized our potential for adding value downstream. Compared with either reserves or current output of oil and gas, our performance in manufacturing chemicals has a long way to grow, especially in the areas of specialties, pharmaceuticals and life-science products.”

Al-Othman noted that chemical company stocks account for 40 percent of the Saudi Bourse and that Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) already was a global giant on par with BASF in terms of capitalization. He said that despite this strong foundation, the region’s share of the chemicals market is very small. Saudi Arabia possesses more than a quarter of the world’s hydrocarbon resources, yet its share of the chemicals market is less than 2 percent. Upside potential for the Kingdom is tremendous, he said, as there are growth opportunities for existing players as well as for Saudi Aramco, and growth will generate related new businesses and employment opportunities. The company’s entry into the market is welcome as it will be complimentary to the existing industry.

“While SABIC uses natural gas as feedstock, Saudi Aramco’s new ventures use gas liquid and refined products as feed stocks, which are natural extensions of our NGL and refining business,” he said, citing current and planned joint ventures with Sumitomo Chemical (PetroRabigh) and Dow Chemical Co.

“Within the next two years, Saudi Aramco will begin independently marketing high-value chemicals,” Al-Othman said of PetroRabigh. “Within the next decade, we aim to launch into the top tiers of the global chemicals business.”

He also spoke of the economic potential of the joint venture with Dow that the company is exploring. “The Jubail project plans to make chemical products never made before in Saudi Arabia or the Middle East, such as polyurethane raw materials used in systems houses for production of foams, elastomers used for a variety of auto and appliance applications, and glycol ethers used in solvents and specialty fluids,” he said.

“The project will offer a significant number of partnering opportunities downstream of the facilities in new industrial value parks geared at industries that strongly support the Kingdom’s National Industrial Cluster Development Program. The project is expected to create about 3,000 value-adding direct-hire jobs at the facility, with an equal number of direct jobs likely to be created in the chemicals and plastics value parks associated with the venture.”

Al-Othman said the key to this added-value proposition was to diversify the Kingdom’s economic base while providing jobs for young Saudis who will be joining the nation’s work force in the coming years.

“With a large population bulge entering the job market, the Kingdom needs more than ever to create meaningful job opportunities. With the public sector able to accommodate only a small percentage of the jobs needed, the private sector has to be the engine of job creation,” he said. “By 2030, there will be 10 million people in the labor force — more than double the number according to the most recent official statistics of 2009. If private enterprise does not create these jobs, the standard of living will suffer.”

He encouraged the members of the American Chemical Society to lend their support and, as importantly, their ideas and innovations to help create a new, brighter future for the Kingdom.

“Quantum leaps in both the size and the quality of the Kingdom’s chemicals industry — with all that this signifies for economic growth — is within our ability,” Al-Othman said. “You and our other chemical professionals will be at the center of this endeavor. As a financial analyst has noted, diversified chemical firms tend to measure their output in tons while specialty chemical businesses state their output in pounds. This indicates the qualitative difference in high-value-added chemical manufacturing.”

The Saudi Arabian International Chemical Sciences Chapter of the American Chemical Society was founded in 1988 and has more than 500 members across the Kingdom.

Kathryn Franck Earns Masters from Lewis & Clark

20 June 2011 | 0 comments | Graduations & Retirements | by Tricia Franck

Kathryn Franck Graduates from Lewis & Clark Graduate School Tricia, Kathryn, and Charlie Franck

Portland, Ore. — Kathryn Franck, daughter of retired Aramcons Charlie and Tricia Franck, graduated with her Masters of Arts degree from Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling in a commencement ceremony held on June 5, 2011.

Kathryn’s specific area of concentration was Early Childhood Education. Stephen Krashen, a linguist, educational researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, delivered the commencement address.

While at Lewis & Clark, Franck student taught third grade at Cedaroak Elementary School in West Linn, OR.

Lewis & Clark prepares students for lives of local and global engagement. Located in Portland, Oregon, the college educates approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in the liberal arts and sciences and 1,500 students in graduate and professional programs in education, counseling and law.

Taylor Kelsch to Retire After Three Decades with Aramco

19 June 2011 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by Saudi Aramco

DHAHRAN — On June 30, three decades after joining the company, Taylor Kelsch will retire. Kelsch joined the company in Houston in 1981 as a financial analyst in Aramco Services Co.’s Treasurer’s Department. Five years later, he transferred to the office in Washington, D.C., and in 1992, he came to Dhahran to work in the Treasurer’s Risk Management division.

Laurie and Taylor Kelsch After 30 years with the company, Taylor Kelsch, right, will retire at the end of the month. He and his wife, Laurie, plan to move to Augusta, Kentucky in the United States.

Since being in the Kingdom, Kelsch was assigned in 2001 to the Joint Venture Development and Support Department, and he now ends his career with the Domestic Joint Venture Department.

“Saudi Aramco is a great company,” Kelsch said. “I’ve enjoyed working with so many very talented, knowledgeable and highly skilled colleagues. It’s been especially gratifying to have participated in some of the company’s downstream efforts.”

Kelsch and his wife, Laurie, have four children and two grandchildren. Of their children, Danny is a software engineer for Dell Computer and lives with his family in Round Rock, Texas. Katie recently graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans, and Mary will graduate from Texas A&M in August. Their youngest child, Paul, was born in Dhahran and will enroll at Texas A&M in the fall.

The entire Kelsch family has been active in community, school and recreational activities, including Girl Scouts, baseball, softball, basketball, girls soccer, the RC morale group and other activities in the Dhahran community.

“It has been wonderful to raise our family here. The schools and teachers for the children have been great, and we have been able to participate actively in a wide variety of community activities sponsored and made available by Saudi Aramco,” Taylor Kelsch said. “The housing, recreational and medical facilities have been exceptional, and we have made numerous friends who we look forward to seeing back home.”

Taylor and Laurie will be settling in Augusta, Kentucky in the United States. He is looking forward to participating in civic activities in his hometown, while Laurie Kelsch, the daughter of retired Aramcons Larry and Billie Tanner, will adjust to living in the United States after spending nearly 40 years in Saudi Arabia.

They can be reached at

Black Arch Makes Biennale Debut

19 June 2011 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by Saudi Aramco News

 VENICE, ITALY, June 15, 2011 — The Biennale is a world cultural event embracing visual arts, architecture and dance held every two years in Venice for more than a century. This year, two young Saudi women, with support from Saudi Aramco, are representing the Kingdom here for the first time with an art exhibit called the “Black Arch.”

Black Arch Makes Biennale Debut Photo by Saudi Aramco

This sculptural celebration embodies a polished steel oval, one side reflective and the other side black, surrounded by small chrome spheres and a small cube filled with pebbles. The thought-provoking piece is the creation of well-known author Raja Alem and artist Shadia Alem. The two are sisters from Makkah.

“It is like an exchange of energy,” Raja said of working with her sister. “When she has a project, there is certain energy within it, and I feel that there are waves in our workspace, and I ride on those waves, and I write my most beautiful books on those waves. And when I have projects, she benefits from that wave. So it’s not so much about collaboration as it is about enhancing the other’s energy and the energy that surrounds us, and that carries us.”

The “Black Arch” attempts to bridge two cultures, creating a portal between Makkah and Venice while conjuring the memory of explorers Marco Polo and Ibn Batutta.

“How you see the world depends on your birth position on the globe,” Shadia said of the work. “Some parts of the world allow you to perceive more of the global scene — giving you a wider exposure. This is the way we approach the ‘Black Arch.’ When you come straight from the door you see only black, but turning or coming from right or left allows you a glimpse of what is behind. When you move further, you see it differently. In a way, you recreate the world.

“It also depends on the person. Many people will only see and be stopped by the black, but if you cross over, you will reach something else.”

Saudi Aramco took an active role in the global celebration of the arts as the national sponsor through the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, which lent support to the Ministry of Culture and Information. The Ministry helped organize the country’s participation in this year’s Biennale.

“Our participation comes within the context of positioning the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and developing its programs,” Al-Khayyal said. “Saudi Aramco is concerned with providing the Kingdom with energy and national development. Talent development, advancing science and art and participation in cultural communication with the world are part of the company’s concerns.”

The Biennale continues through November and will give hundreds of thousands of Venice visitors a unique window on and a better understanding of the Arab world.

For more information, visit

R&DC Celebrates Year of Chemistry 2011

17 June 2011 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by Saudi Aramco News

DHAHRAN, June 13, 2011 — For many of the researchers at the Research and Development Center (R&DC), chemistry is a living. But they also know that it’s more than that.

R&DC Celebrates Year of Chemistry 2011 Photo by Saudi Aramco

It’s life.

All known matter – gas, liquid and solid – is composed of the chemical elements and of compounds made from those elements. Indeed, all living processes are controlled by chemical reactions.

Now the R&DC experts, along with the Saudi Arabian International Chemical Sciences Chapter of the American Chemical Society (SAICSC-ACS), want to share their enthusiasm with others through a celebration of the International Year of Chemistry 2011. IYC 2011 is a global celebration of the accomplishments of chemistry and its contributions to humankind.

The theme of the event is “Chemistry — Our Life, Our Future,” and IYC 2011 offers a range of entertaining and educational activities for all ages.

“The International Year of Chemistry 2011 is intended to reach across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with opportunities for public participation at the local, regional and national level,” said Abdullah S. Al-Dhuwaihi, Upstream Program deputy director and chairman of the IYC 2011 organizing committee. “Saudi Aramco R&DC is playing a vital role in this effort.”

As part of the celebrations, high school students from local schools are visiting R&DC and are dazzled by chemistry experiments being shown there. Atef Al-Zahrani, Yaser Al-Qahtani, Faisal Al-Rasheed, Anas Al-Juraifani and Thamer Mohammad, all of R&DC are leading the tours.

IYC 2011 aims to increase public appreciation of chemistry in meeting people’s needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry and to promote the role of women in chemistry.

“The year 2011 coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize awarded to Madame Marie Curie,” Al-Dhuwaihi said. “This gives us an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women to science.” It is also the 100th anniversary of the launch of the International Association of Chemical Societies, “and this gives us the chance to emphasize the benefits of international scientific collaboration,” he said.

SAICSC-ACS scored a coup as part of IYC 2011 with the visit May 9 by the 2010 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, professor emeritus Akira Suzuki. His presentation was titled “Suzuki Coupling Reaction: The Recent Progress.” About 150 scientists and engineers attended.

Suzuki and his collaborators are involved in organoborane chemistry — the chemistry of chemical compounds that contain carbon and boron. They have developed new synthetic methods using these organoborane compounds, which are important reagents in organic chemistry enabling many chemical reactions and transformations.

Another in a series of IYC 2011 events was the demonstration of chemistry experiments at the Third National Festival of Science and Technology at Prince Sultan ibn Abdulaziz Center for Science and Technology in al-Khobar. SAICSC-ACS chairman Abdullah Al-Ghamdi said the May 17-19 event is part of his organization’s effort to promote science in the community.

R&DC engineer Atef Al-Zahrani discussed the impact of chemistry on daily life and in countless applications — ranging from fossil fuels and oil to medicine, to paint, plastics, semi-conductors, nanotechnology and more.

The team members conducted experiments and answered the visitors’ chemistry questions. The demonstrations explained chemical concepts such as catalysts, color-changing oxidation and other reactions. The kids, students, college graduates and parents expressed amazement and fascination at the powers of chemistry, and some said they were inspired to pursue the field.

The team, led by Al-Dhuwaihi, also included Faisal Al-Melibari, Anas Al-Juraifani, Al-Zahrani, Maher Shariff, Yasser Al-Qahtani and Thamer Mohammad.

“Several activities are planned for the rest of the year, including exhibitions for students of all ages and the public, sponsoring poster exhibitions highlighting the usefulness and wonder of chemistry,” said Al-Dhuwaihi. “We will continue to hold fairs for high schools students and the scientists and engineers will show how they use chemistry in their jobs.”