Engineering a reliable energy future:
ASC hosts second annual Saudi Aramco Global Reliability Forum
HOUSTON – The greatest engineering feat of all time? The invention of the wheel comes to mind, as it quite literally set the world in motion.
Through the ages, engineers have continued to apply their innovative talents to find breakthrough solutions. This spirit of ingenuity set the stage for the recent Saudi Aramco Global Reliability Forum 2012 – hosted by Aramco Services Company (ASC) – that drew approximately 450 industry experts, thought leaders, engineering specialists and others from throughout the United States and other parts of the world.
This was the second year in a row for ASC to host the forum, which was held June 27-28 in Houston, Texas.
Participants gathered to discuss creative solutions for building and maintaining a strong, reliable infrastructure for a secure energy future. The forum’s technical tracks allowed them to talk “shop” about matters related to valves, rotary equipment, instrumentation and such.
They represented major oil and chemical companies – including ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Total, BP, Dow, DuPont as well as Saudi Aramco and ASC; and also represented manufacturing groups and engineering services companies.
According to Ahmed Alzayyat, ASC president, the forum provided attendees with a “valuable opportunity to share, listen and learn.” It also demonstrated Saudi Aramco’s leading role in the industry to affect positive change.
Majid Alghaslan, manager of ASC Technical Services, added, “ASC is committed to hosting this forum, which has doubled in size. The strong position that Saudi Aramco and ASC have taken on reliability is resonating throughout the industry. Specialists in the field, and even outside the industry, are gravitating toward us in greater numbers because they, too, want to be a part of that leading edge.”
A valuable learning experience
The forum’s lineup of renowned keynote speakers helped set the tone of ingenuity and purpose, with some giving their insight on the energy picture and others providing an inside look into the incredible technological advances taking place in their respective fields. This allowed attendees to draw lessons from other industries.
Dr. John Callas, project manager of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Program, gave an awe-inspiring presentation on how he and his team built and equipped the rovers for their mission on Mars. He also showed pictures of the rovers rolling along the Red Planet’s surface to collect rock samples and capture photos – and explained how all this was controlled by NASA engineers back on Earth about 140 million miles or so away. Dr. Callas also addressed techniques used to help ensure the reliability of the rovers, which have continued to perform well past their life expectancy.
Robert Bryce, energy journalist/author and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, gave a thought-provoking talk on what he termed, “the real fuels of the future.” He emphasized the need for greater public awareness and understanding that hydrocarbons will continue as the dominant source of fuel for the foreseeable future. This is primarily due to their scalability to meet growing demand. “Calculations show,” he said, “that renewable energy by itself cannot, will not, be able to replace hydrocarbons over the next two to three decades, and that’s a conservative estimate.”
Dr. Howard Gruenspecht, deputy administrator and recent former acting administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), presented an overview of the just released “Energy Outlook 2012,” a report developed by the EIA. He provided a short-term and long-term view of world energy markets; and also focused on the energy picture in the United States, covering trends in energy production, consumption and technology. He talked specifically about U.S. natural gas production from shale, saying it has the potential to become a real “game changer” in the world’s energy scenario.
Tarun Bhatnagar, head of Google Enterprise’s Global Geospatial business, discussed the technologies used to develop Google Maps and other geospatial applications. He talked about Google’s extensive measures to gather information in certain countries to help ensure accurate mapping outcomes. This involved not only mounting cameras on cars but, in some cases, installing them on bicycles, trolleys, and even snowmobiles.
The forum’s packed two days also included 54 technical presentations given by attendees during four concurrent tracks focusing on: Electrical Power Distribution Systems, Fixed Equipment & Materials, Instrumentation & Control Systems, and Machinery.
Serving as track presenters from Saudi Aramco were Yahya A. Asiri, Bader M. Al-Jarallah, and Mohammad Al-Issa with the Consulting Services Department; Ali H. Al-Abdulal and Patrick Flanders with the Process & Control Systems Department; Mohammad H. Al-Ismail and Ahmad M. Jelwah with the Corporate Maintenance Services Department, and Nader A. Melaibary with AOC Jazan PMT.
ASC Engineering staff primarily responsible for event planning were Donald Dunn, general supervisor; Louis Archuleta; and Gil Dolor. Other engineering staff members who assisted with event planning and/or served as technical track leads included Amaro Bustamante, Scott Ballew, Jim Bowen, Charlie Green, Rajan Hingoraney, Howard Chiang, Joe Rhodes, Joe Thorp, and Danielle Kutowy.
This year’s forum included a vendor expo that helped link together end users and suppliers in a small-group setting. Several companies also stepped forward to serve as event sponsors to support the effort to advance industry excellence. A networking reception immediately followed the first day of activities.
In a post-event survey, participants gave the forum high marks, with many expressing their appreciation to Saudi Aramco and ASC for their efforts to bring together engineering specialists to discuss reliability.
Mike Valko with Roush Industries – an engineering company that provides design, prototyping, testing and manufacturing services – wrote, “I really enjoyed all aspects of the forum’s content including the keynote speakers, exhibitors, ASC hosts and contributors, and technical track speakers throughout the two-day event. I was honored to be in the midst of such leading-edge energy exploration, consulting, chemical, refinery equipment and service companies; and appreciated the opportunity to network and strategize with their representatives.”
Majid Alghaslan, far left, and Donald Dunn, far right, are pictured with, from left, Dr. John Callas, project manager of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Program, and Robert Bryce, energy journalist/author.
Dr. John Callas, project manager of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Program, shows a photo of the Mars surface taken by one of the rovers.
Dr. Howard Gruenspecht, deputy administrator with the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gives an overview of the “Energy Outlook 2012” report.
Saudi Aramco engineers, Mohammad H. Al-Ismail, center, and Ahmad M. Jelaw right, are pictured with Tarun Bhatnagar, head of Google Enterprise’s Global Geospatial business.
Greg Gedney with Greene Tweed & Co. networks with another attendee during the forum’s vendor expo. Greene Tweed & Co. served as the forum’s gold sponsor.