DHAHRAN – The first research center in Saudi Arabia that focuses on the research and development of new technologies that will explore and unlock the potential of the Kingdom’s unconventional resources, such as shale oil, heavy oil, and tight gas was formally inaugurated here Wednesday by Ali Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.
The Dhahran Unconventional Resources Research and Technology Center opened its door at the Dhahran Techno Valley (DTV), the current site of other international organizations engaged in R&D in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.
Present during the inauguration were Khalid Al-Falih, president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco, Dr. Khaled Al-Sultan, rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), and Chad Deaton, executive chairman of Baker Hughes, the partner of Saudi Aramco in the R&D venture.
Baker Hughes, a global leader in the supply of oilfield services, products, technology and systems to the worldwide oil and natural gas industry, has already constructed its facility at DTV, which is adjacent to Saudi Aramco and KFUPM.
The opening of the center will allow Baker Hughes to better cooperate with Saudi Aramco, the academic community in the region, and local and regional customers “to solve the challenges unique to unconventional resources, such as tight gas, shale oil, and heavy oil in the Kingdom,” according to Martin Craighead, Baker Hughes president and CEO.
Aside from the fossil resources of oil and gas, the Kingdom also has huge reserves of unconventional resources waiting to be explored.
Besides bringing to the Kingdom technologies in exploring unconventional resources, Baker Hughes will also provide educational sponsorship programs to Saudi female scientists and engineers to pursue their MA, MSC or Ph.D programs in universities overseas, according to Craighead.
Baker Hughes will also continue its partnership with the Saudi Petroleum Services Polytechnic in Dammam in sponsoring work and volunteer programs for young Saudi students. This year, some 30 university students across all disciplines will be offered opportunities to work in the Kingdom and other Gulf countries.
KFUPM rector Sultan said he never doubted that DTV would become the hub of R&D in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors in the region.
“We are an oil producing country, and therefore our resources – both in oil and reserves and the robust research programs of our universities – are our greatest asset in hosting world-class companies right here in Dhahran, the center of the oil industry,” he said.
Sultan said the Baker Hughes center, estimated to cost between SR700 to SR800 million, will offer research opportunities to students and postgraduate students of KFUPM in areas of petrophysics, drilling, geomechanics, fluids and production technology.
Baker Hughes has a long association with the Kingdom’s oil industry. Over the last five years, the company has invested more than $180 million in local infrastructure that has provided career development opportunities for young Saudis