Leading Change

Aramco’s CTO joins energy sustainability panel

Discussion took place during during Society of Petroleum Engineers annual conference.

Aramco’s CTO joins energy sustainability panel

Aramco’s chief technology officer (CTO) Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter joined panelists during the opening general session “Leading the Energy Transition” at this year’s Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) annual meeting, emphasizing that continued cooperation, investment, and technology will make the difference going forward.  

Al-Khowaiter joined representatives from Baker Hughes, Chevron, and the Environmental Defense Fund for a collective look at energy transition pathways, policies, and global initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

This is a very exciting time for the energy industry. We are going to become an oil, gas, hydrogen, renewables, and carbon industry.
- Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter

In response to a suggestion by one of the panelists about discontinuing investments in oil and gas exploration, the CTO remarked that all energy sources were needed to meet growing global energy demand and because producing fields undergo a natural decline in productivity, it is essential that the oil and gas industry continually find new sources of reserves to reliably meet this demand.

Aramco’s Sami Alnuaim, chairperson, Executive Advisory Committee and 2019 SPE president, said the conference theme was carefully selected to reflect the ever-growing global dialogue on energy transition and the ways to reach a net zero carbon economy by 2050.  

With more than 165,000 members worldwide, SPE is the largest individual member organization serving engineers, scientists, and other professionals in the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry.  

During technical sessions, Aramco presented nearly 20 papers highlighting breakthroughs in new completions technology, machine learning, and data analytics in formation evaluation and novel developments in reservoir modeling.  

Aramco’s upstream research and development is advancing sustainability efforts through work in emerging topics such as digital and robotics technologies, advanced sensing, and the Internet of Things for data exchange.

In a special session “Sustainability and the Energy Transition: Navigating an Oil and Gas Grand Challenge,” Michael Traver, commercial transport fuels leader, Aramco Research Center-Detroit, representing the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) as Transport Workstream leader, discussed the collective efforts of the 12 member companies to invest and support the scale up and demonstration of greenhouse gas reducing technologies.  

Traver highlighted opportunities to address emissions through the deployment of low carbon fuels for current and future road vehicles, marine vessels, and aircraft.  

Recently, OGCI and Stena Bulk, a leading international tanker owner and operator, announced a collaboration to assess the feasibility of mobile carbon capture in shipping. The project is in part an extension of Aramco’s work that successfully demonstrated carbon capture onboard heavy-duty trucks. The goal is to provide research on solutions that contribute to significant emissions reduction from the marine sector by 2050.  

Aramco is a founding member of OGCI, and member companies are working together to multiply the impact of their efforts, leveraging investments through the organization’s Climate Investments fund to introduce new technologies to lower greenhouse gas emissions.  

SPE members play a key role in helping society accelerate toward a low carbon energy future.

Prestigious SPE International recognition was given to Aramco personnel during the first day, Member Monday, awards program. Subhash C. Ayirala and Shouxiang Mark Ma, Petroleum Engineering and Development, were named to Distinguished Membership, and Meshal A. Amri, Northern Area Oil Operations, was presented with a Young Member Outstanding Service Award. 

SPE’s Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal for distinguished achievement in petroleum technology and concepts was awarded to Hisham A. Nasr-El-Din, a Texas A&M professor and longtime Saudi Aramco professional. Nasr-El-Din passed away in July, and accepting the award on his behalf was 2014 SPE president Jeff Spath. (See sidebar “A Legacy in Petroleum Engineering.”) 

Aramco took home nine regional awards for the Middle East and North Africa region, with the Middle East having one of the largest and most active chapters within SPE.  

Aramco served as a sponsor for this year’s virtual conference, with more than 2,000 registered attendees participating in 60 plus sessions held throughout the three-day event.


A legacy in petroleum engineering: Hisham A. Nasr-El-Din

Aramco pays tribute to Dr. Hisham A. Nasr-El-Din who was awarded this year’s SPE Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal honoring distinguished achievement in the development of new technology and concepts to enhance the process of finding or producing petroleum.  

Nasr-El-Din was a well-respected professor and mentor to many students in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, overseeing eight scientific research labs.

For Aramco the tribute is most personal, as he worked as a principal researcher for Saudi Aramco for 15 years at the Research & Development Center (R&DC) and the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center – Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) in Dhahran.  

A tribute to Nasr-El-Din on Texas A&M’s website recognized his commitment to excellence. “Most importantly, Nasr-El-Din ran his research group as if part of a company, drawing on his years of experience as a researcher for Saudi Aramco.”  

Frank Chang, Production Technology, Aramco Research Center-Houston, has been invited as a guest editor for a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering featuring papers on topics in oil field chemistry, stimulation and enhanced oil recovery. The special issue will be published in 2022 recognizing Nasr-El-Din’s prolific research and honoring his legacy to petroleum engineering.


You are currently using an older browser. Please note that using a more modern browser such as Microsoft Edge might improve the user experience. Download Microsoft Edge