Innovation Competition

Researchers race to cut Upstream carbon footprint

New innovation competition draws broad interest across multiple disciplines.

Researchers race to cut Upstream carbon footprint

You might not know this, but the company’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) has an informal in-house slogan: “We will either find a way, or we will make one!”


Scientists and engineers at Aramco’s global research centers, including EXPEC ARC, have once again lived up to their word with the announcement of the winners of the first ever Ebtikar innovation competition to find ways to reduce Upstream’s carbon footprint. Ebtikar is an Arabic word meaning “to create something innovative or ingenious.”


The researchers submitted 65 proposals from teams across all disciplines and geographical locations. There were 40 proposals from Dhahran, 10 from the U.S., six from Moscow, six from Beijing, two from Aberdeen, and one from Delft. Four proposals were shortlisted by a panel of experts, who evaluated the potential solutions based on business impact, corporate strategic objectives, novelty, CO2 emissions reduction potential, and development and deployment potential. Entries ranged from a new approach to sequestering CO2, to reducing water cuts, improving operational efficiency, reducing chemical consumption, and enabling greater recycling.


Finding a course

The top four finalists from Dhahran, Houston, and Aberdeen presented their innovative solutions virtually in a final round to the expert panel, the company’s scientists and engineers around the world, and Petroleum Engineering and Development (PE&D) senior management. The top three proposals will launch as new projects.


Abdul Hameed A. Al Rushaid, acting vice president of PE&D, said EXPEC ARC was a great idea incubator. “I am extremely confident that the researchers’ creative minds are more than capable to come up with, develop, and deliver solutions that will not only help our company and country, but also the entire world,” he said. “EXPEC ARC’s researchers are encouraged to use their curiosity and knowledge to create solutions to support Aramco’s ultimate goals.”


Making a path

Since its inception, EXPEC ARC’s mission has been to develop creative solutions for the unique challenges encountered in Upstream operations. Ebtikar taps into this creativity to develop high impact solutions that can be made into deployable technologies within three to five years. This competition will focus on a specific theme relevant to Upstream’s immediate challenges each year.


“Venues such Ebtikar serve as catalysts to explore cutting-edge, outside-the-box solutions to critical challenges the industry is facing,” said Ashraf M. Al-Tahini, manager of EXPEC ARC. “The first competition installment reinforces the department’s efforts to develop and deploy technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of Upstream operations through proper capture and utilization of CO2, supporting the company’s sustainability efforts.”


The team, which presented on CO2 Nanobubbles for Optimal Carbon Utilization and Sequestration, earned top honors. They were led by Amr Abdel-Fattah, and included Muhammad Almajid, Afnan Mashat, Ahmed Alsmaeil, Ayrat Gizzatov, Naif Alabdulatif, Ayman Nakhli, and Mohammed Arfaj. 


Other teams were recognized for proposals, including:


  • Rig Power System Efficiency and Emissions Optimization (1st runner up)
  • Carbon Capture Underground Treatment and Sequestration (CCUTS) (2nd runner up)
  • On-site Gas-to-Liquids Conversion for Stranded Gas Recovery (3rd runner up).

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