While challenges of human resources, economics and technology remain important, Saudi Arabia has also embraced social and environmental responsibility as a cornerstone for corporate citizenship, said Saudi Aramco VP-Drilling & Workover Zuhair Al Hussain in keynote remarks to the SPE/IADC Middle East Drilling Technology Conference, held 26-28 October in Bahrain.
“Our newest challenges are related to our role as significant members of the regional economy and global environment,” Mr Al-Hussain said. “Our companies are not only developers of natural resources but corporate citizens with social and environmental obligations…. Saudi Aramco has recognized this and is taking a long and measured approach to respecting the environment.”
Mr Al-Hussain also centered on more traditional industry concerns.
“As far back as any of us in this room can remember, the drilling business has struggled to balance real limitations with ambitious goals, he said. ”Saudi Aramco, like all of the operators in the Middle East, faces many challenges and obstacles to successful operations. These challenges continue to be strongly influenced by global events and industry trends that are beyond our control. While the business conditions under which we may be operating have shifted recently, it is notable that many old problems remain essentially the same.”
Mr Al-Hussain noted that dependency on technology is rapidly expanding. The technology share of Saudi Aramco wells have increased by as much as 45% in the past year, he said.
“The vertical oil well of 15 years ago is now a multilateral, geosteered, smart well with fiber optic monitoring and flow-control devices,” he said. “Drilling, completion and stimulation equipment have all advanced in ways that make it possible to access and extract more reserves than ever before. To balance the application, cost, and risk of these technologies with their incremental benefit requires expertise and management.
Regarding the environment, Mr Al-Hussain noted that Saudi Aramco has begun documenting the local resources of the marine and near shore environments. “We engaged the local communities in conservation and protection efforts.”
He said that Saudi Aramco and other GCC operators have established offshore operating practices that are aimed at minimizing impact, including zero discharge and zero flaring practices.
“By adopting these philosophies and practices we are striving to continue our long tradition of operating excellence, industry leadership, and corporate responsibility,” Mr Al-Hussain said.