Saudi Aramco employees earn top honors for innovation at annual World Oil Awards
By Heather Saucier
HOUSTON – Recognized for their outstanding contributions in upstream innovation, two of six Saudi Aramco award finalists received top honors at the annual 2012 World Oil Awards ceremony on October 18.
Saeed M. Al Mubarak received the Innovative Thinker award for his contribution in real-time reservoir management over the past 10 years. In the oil and gas industry, he is considered a leading innovator in advanced well completions and “Intelligent Fields,” which strategically combine processes, technology and people to achieve the highest performance at the lowest cost. Al Mubarak oversees one of the world’s largest intelligent field projects in Saudi Arabia.
Peter O’Regan, an IT specialist in the e-Map Division, received the New Horizons Idea award for his “game-changing” invention that accurately tracks the physical movement of marine oil spills in real time. His patent-pending system – which uses unique GPS-enabled sensors to track spills as well as advanced GIS mapping to provide live situational awareness to emergency commanders – is being lauded as an industry breakthrough that will ultimately minimize contamination and expedite clean-up activities.
Al Mubarak, O’Regan and a third award recipient representing Superior Energy Services, Inc. were recognized for their professional services to the industry – special honors that were given at the 11th
annual ceremony at The Houstonian Hotel.
Beginning with a case study in Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar oil field – the largest oil field in the world – Al Mubarak helped to develop the first intelligent field, Haradh Increment III, in South Ghawar.
Al Mubarak has leveraged the knowledge gained from the development of Haradh Increment III and has been generating innovative strategies, operations and data management processes to further new solutions and technologies in the industry. By integrating technologies with real-time optimization solutions, experts from various disciplines can collaboratively achieve the highest performance of intelligent fields.
Al Mubarak also has patented a specialized valve that prevents the cross flow among multiple reservoirs through many segments, or laterals, of a well.
He credits the “three Ps” for his accomplishments: “passion, patience and persistence.” Al Mubarak had previously been a finalist for the 2009 World Oil “Innovative Thinker” award.
As a contributing writer to the Arabian Sun
, Al Mubarak once alluded to the accomplishments of Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and Ibn Al-Haytham (a Muslim pioneer in physics, optics, astronomy and analytical geometry), explaining how their discoveries set the stage for technological advancements for humanity. “They all planted trees for us to harvest,” he said, adding that he views his achievements in the same light.
While Al Mubarak focuses on the anatomy of a reservoir, O’Regan concentrates on boosting Saudi Aramco’s emergency response capabilities, both on land and offshore. Saudi Aramco takes special precautions to avoid oil spills and is proactively searching for ways to minimize effects when they occur. Such responses include developing new technology in fluid dynamics that allow scientists to more accurately predict the movement of oil in the ocean and provide additional time for crews to contain a spill.
In collaboration with the IT Future Center and Marine Department, O’Regan developed a system to track the movement of spills 24 hours a day using lightweight, floating sensors that are deployed by helicopter directly into the center and perimeter of an oil slick. The sensors transmit their exact location every 10 minutes and monitor a spill’s size, velocity, and potential impact. The sensor data is dynamically merged with live GPS locations of vessels, helicopters, and oil containment booms on rich map displays.
“Instead of relying on vague radio reports, computer predictions and piecemeal information, this new system provides the facts that are needed to make effective decisions. This presents an industry breakthrough at a time when the scale and complexity of offshore exploration and production is rising worldwide,” O’Regan said.
The system will soon be commissioned within Saudi Aramco, and options for commercialization are being explored.
The World Oil Awards event, titled “Innovations for the Future,” also recognized four Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center – Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) finalists: the Drilling Microchip for the Best Drilling Technology Award category; Abdulwahab Alghamdi for the Best Outreach Program; Steerable Access Sub for the Best Production Technology Award; and Hyper-Dimensional Simulator for the Best Visualization & Collaboration Award. Saudi Aramco served as an event co-sponsor.
(Saudi Aramco employee Nabeel S. Al-Habib accepted the award on behalf of Al Mubarak, who was unable to attend the ceremony.)