Aramco Services Company

2012 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition


SPE sets stage for transforming beyond conventional wisdom

HOUSTON –Some of the brightest minds in the oil and gas industry gathered in San Antonio, Texas, for the 2012 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. Saudi Aramco’s Mohammed Al-Qahtani, vice president of Petroleum Engineering and Development, opened the general session on behalf of conference chairman and Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid Al-Falih.  

Al-Qahtani provided opening remarks to the panel session titled “Making Unconventionals Conventional,” which featured four industry thought leaders:  David Lesar, president and CEO, Halliburton; Mark Albers, senior vice president, ExxonMobil; Timothy Dove, president and COO, Pioneer Natural Resources; and Steve Holditch, director, Texas A&M Energy Institute.  Each of these professionals offered his perspective on the need to employ unconventional wisdom to the challenge of meeting the world’s ever increasing demand for energy.  

While the panelists represented oil majors, academia, independent providers, and service companies – a few common themes emerged from the discussion:  1) the need for industry to better communicate to the public and key stakeholders the economic benefits of unconventional resource development, 2) the industry’s continued commitment to environmentally friendly and sustainable development with regards to unconventionals, 3) the need for industry to not only compete but also cooperate with more knowledge-sharing to advance technology and field development schemes, and 4) the global potential of shale gas and other unconventionals toward unlocking supplies of oil and gas around the world.  

Al-Qahtani prefaced the discussion by noting that the petroleum industry has always risen to challenges in exploration and production.  The key to addressing these challenges has been the timely development and deployment of new technology.  The phenomenal growth of shale gas production, for example, has been made possible by ‘out-of-the-box’ technologies and practices,” he said.  

He also emphasized that the conference was more than shale gas, tight oil or other unconventional approaches.  “What faces our industry is more than just modifying a conventional enterprise to be able to produce from unconventional sources,” he said.  “It is not about an oil producer getting into shale gas.  It is about transforming an entire industry and its various elements to operate in a new and dynamic environment.”  

He continued, “We must transform beyond conventional wisdom and apply, on a continual basis, an unconventional mindset to all aspects of our business.   These include investment, technology, health, safety and environment, and human talent.”  

The panelists agreed that industry must now live up to the promise of unconventionals as a sustainable “game changer.” In order to accomplish this, they said, there needs to be better definition of roles between operators and service companies as well as turning the “intellectual storehouse” of unconventional information into rapid technology development.

The panelists agreed that industry will rise to the technology challenge and they called for sound guidance and effective policymaking by local, state and federal regulators in North America.  With data from 25 basins in North America providing a wealth of information to assess tight and shale gas, the “Great Shale University,” as it was described in the discussion, can spur a depth of knowledge leading to the global expansion of unconventionals.   And with trillions of cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas around the world, the mandate is clear.  

Al-Qahtani, who serves as chairman of SPE’s Executive Advisory Committee, concluded his remarks by encouraging the petroleum industry to raise its sights and aim higher.  “Our brightest era is yet to come,” he said.   

Aramco Services Co. (ASC) sent staff from Upstream Research, Information Technology, Staffing Services, and Public Affairs to coordinate and ensure Saudi Aramco’s high profile at the conference.  

Staffing Services used the SPE conference as a foundation for a major upstream recruiting event.   This included pre-scheduled interviews in Houston the week before the conference, followed by recruitment activity in the booth in San Antonio.  "Our advance efforts combined with on-site support resulted in a strong recruitment effort aimed at helping the Enterprise reach its targets for 2012,” said Moutaz Mashhour, manager, ASC Industrial Relations.  According to Staffing Services, the overall effort yielded 90 recommended offers.


Mohammed Al-Qahtani, vice president of Petroleum Engineering and Development, Saudi Aramco, delivered the opening remarks to the general session of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition.  This year the conference attracted an estimated 10,000 attendees wanting to learn more about unconventional resources.


Saudi Aramco’s new exhibition booth was one of the largest at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) convention in San Antonio, Texas. Throughout the day, presentations at the booth provided an opportunity for the company to showcase its technical excellence.


More than 60 Saudi Aramco employees along with  Aramco Services Company (ASC) employees worked together to promote the company’s technology leadership and employment opportunities to thousands of attendees at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) conference in San Antonio, Texas.

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