CERAWeek 2023: Aramco thought leaders drive decarbonization dialogue
Tackling the “energy trilemma,” company shares its approach to emissions on international stage.
Aramco played a leading role at CERAWeek 2023 as energy executives and policymakers from around the world gathered in Houston in early March for insightful dialogues about the most viable ways to lower carbon emissions without sacrificing energy security or affordability.
This “energy trilemma” was the conference’s primary theme. Two dozen thought leaders from Aramco, its affiliates, and partner companies addressed key energy industry challenges as speakers or panelists.
Innovative decarbonization initiatives from across the Aramco enterprise were presented to many of the 8,000 people at the event, which S&P Global organizes.
“Through its holistic approach to addressing emissions and its wide network of experts, Aramco demonstrated it is playing a leading role in enabling a lower-carbon future — and the scale and speed at which we are working is noteworthy,” said Bashir M. Dabbousi, director of Technology Strategy and Planning.
The Archie Initiative, to evaluate global carbon emissions and inform policymaking, was the main draw at Aramco’s exhibit at the event.
“The Archie project is growing in size and scope as we work to include carbon intensity data from energy sectors other than petroleum, such as power generation, and expand our collaborations with scientists from around the world,” he added.
Aramco Thought Leaders
A number of Aramcons participated in panel sessions, including (in chronological order):
- Mahdi Adel, CEO of Aramco Ventures, “Financing Low Carbon: What Makes an Energy Transition Fund Green?”
- Dionne Nealy, head of Corporate Support, Aramco Trading Americas, “Where Will the Workforce for Net Zero Come From?”
- Amer A. Amer, chief Transport Technologist, “Passenger Cars and Hydrogen: Can It Move You?”
- Hassan El-Houjeiri, Archie team lead, “Decarbonization: Learning from Across the Energy Value Chain”
- James P. Sledzik, managing director, Aramco Ventures, “Global Energy Innovation Hubs: Where to Grow Your Startup Program”
- Sarah N. Baashan, Aramco Global Analysis Department, “The Role of Hydrocarbons in Getting to Net Zero”
- Ryan Hodgkinson, managing director, Aramco Trading Americas, “Frameworks to Improve Quality and Transparency in the Voluntary Carbon Market”
- Bashir M. Dabbousi, director of Technology Strategy and Planning, “Groundbreaking Technologies” and “From Gray to Clean: Hydrogen in the Refinery.”
Featured R&D initiatives
Aramco’s commitment to leveraging digital technologies and developing low carbon solutions across the energy value chain was demonstrated with engaging Aramco researchers and various interactive displays in our exhibit at the event, called the Aramco Agora house.
Upstream and Downstream technologies were showcased, and scientists from research centers in Boston, Detroit, and Houston were present to highlight key innovations to visitors.
CERAWeek participants who visited Aramco’s Agora house were delighted to learn about the many innovative decarbonization and digital transformation technologies Aramco is advancing for the energy industry — from upstream to downstream and into transportation — and its role in accelerating decarbonization.
— Mohammed N. Alaskar, U.S. R&D director
The Upstream technologies focused on new energy sources, showing our unique approach to producing hydrogen at scale with less energy and lower emissions. Also featured was our digital transformation journey that included developing virtual flow meters using machine learning that can be used to improve efficiencies and lower operating costs in our fields, and a drone aided with artificial intelligence for remote sensing, exploration, and emissions monitoring.
Downstream technologies that were featured included content about the first commercial deployment of Aramco’s Thermal Crude to Chemicals (TC2C) technology at the S-Oil refinery in Korea to achieve 70% conversion of crude to chemicals, our large-scale carbon sequestration project planned for Jubail, our efforts to advance the blue hydrogen/blue ammonia economy and direct air capture technology, and plastics recycling work done in alliance with SABIC as part of our commitment to a circular economy.
Our transportation displays also included models of a hydrogen powered engine that reduces carbon emissions by 99% relative to conventional gasoline engines, and a model that explained the chemical processes that create synthetic fuels, including flasks of these products.
Researchers who gave interactive talks about the technologies included Shannon Eichmann and Feng Liang from the Houston Research Center, Laura N. Wilcox and Brian Hanna from Boston, and David J. Cleary, Andrew W. Baur, Liam Jing, and James A. Littlefield from Detroit.
Aramco Ventures portfolio companies
Executives from 10 startups that Aramco Ventures has invested in also gave presentations at the company’s exhibition space. Exhibition visitors were keen to hear about the startups that are advancing hydrogen power for transportation, deploying grid-scale battery storage, modularizing carbon capture for cost savings, and designing more durable valves to halt methane leaks.
Representatives from Rice University’s Carbon Hub, an initiative that Aramco supports, were also on-hand to talk about its projects with goals for a zero emissions future by co-producing hydrogen and advanced carbon materials sustainably from gas and oil.
Also participating in CERAWeek 2023 were members of the Young Leader Advisory Board, or YLAB.
Caption for top photo: Detroit researcher Andy Baur highlights our work with synthetic fuels to visitors at Aramco’s exhibit at CERAWeek.