Saudi Aramco’s technology initiatives pique Japanese audience interest

Saudi Aramco’s head of Downstream Research and Development, Ammar A. Al Nahwi, delivers a presentation titled “Transforming Saudi Aramco Technology.”

Saudi Aramco's head of Downstream Research & Development, Ammar A. Al Nahwi, took part in the 34th Japan Cooperation Center, Petroleum (JCCP) International Symposium held recently in Tokyo, Japan.

Al Nahwi spoke during a session with the theme “Technological Strategy and Deployment” in which panelists from different parts of the world discussed the various approaches taken at their respectiorganizations in pursuit of technology development.

Transforming Saudi Aramco's technology program

Al Nahwi introduced Saudi Aramco's ongoing transformation in its technology program as part of the company's Strategic Intent to become the world's leading integrated energy and chemical company by 2020. He highlighted as examples the reinforcement measures taken, such as establishing a new technology oversight organization headed by a chief technology officer, investment in raising the capabilities of the workforce — especially in the area of R&D — and the creation of a global research network through the establishment of research facilities worldwide, as well as partnerships with academic and industrial experts.

Among the domains Saudi Aramco is focusing on include:

  • “Upstream,” which is focused on the themes of discovery and recovery
  • “Downstream,” which is focused on maximizing value, and including technologies such as hydrocracking catalyst and high severity fluid catalytic cracking (HS-FCC)
  • “Strategic,” which is primarily fuels and engine technology, as well as carbon management.

Collaborating with Japanese counterparts

Al Nahwi emphasized that the strong partnership between reputable organizations such as JCCP and Saudi Aramco was vital for several technologies to progress all the way to commercial deployment.

Some projects were conducted in collaboration with Japanese advanced technology providers and the successful examples included the HS-FCC developed jointly with Japan's JX Nippon Oil & Energy, which is being deployed at commercial scale at S-Oil in Korea, and the hydrocracking catalyst development with JGC Catalysts & Chemicals Ltd., which has been commercially demonstrated at the Riyadh Refinery and is being deployed there.

“Through alignment with business engagement, through building a competitive technology organization, and through focusing on value creation in timely research and development execution and effective deployment, we see a successful journey so far in transforming Saudi Aramco technology,” he noted.

The annual symposium organized by the JCCP saw about 400 participants who included oil industry officials, oil company executives as well as energy experts from oil-producing and oil-consuming countries.

A short history of the JCCP

JCCP, founded in 1981, is an affiliated organization of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry that promotes technical cooperation and personnel exchanges between Japan and oil-producing countries in the downstream sectors of the oil industry. Its major activities include programs in accepting overseas technical and administrative staff for training, dispatching Japanese experts abroad, sponsoring international conferences and seminars, and conducting studies and research.

To this day, hundreds of Aramco employees have attended and graduated from their training programs, while a wide range of technical cooperation projects have been conducted jointly between Saudi Aramco and Japanese enterprises through JCCP.

Also in attendance as a keynote speaker was HE Aabed A. Al-Saadoun, the Deputy Minister for Companies Affairs, Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, whose opening remarks about his participation in one of JCCP's technical courses in 2000 as a Saudi Aramco employee led to a warmly received speech emphasizing the solid ties that exist between Saudi Arabia and Japan.