Upstream Innovations: Nanorobots Win World Oil's New Horizons Idea Award

The EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) won the prestigious New Horizons Idea Award at the 2008 World Oil Awards. The award was granted for the research and innovation of Resbots (reservoir robots).

Resbots are nanorobots, less than 1/100th the size of the human hair, that can move through the reservoir. They will be deployed as a microscopic army with injected water into the reservoir. During their journey, they will analyze reservoir pressure, temperature and fluid type, and store that information in onboard memory. They will then be picked up from the produced crude at the producing wells to download that information and tell us everything about the reservoir they have encountered during their journey, thus effectively mapping the reservoir.

EXPEC ARC manager Muhammad M. Saggaf and the Resbot team presented the award to Khalid A. Al-Falih, executive vice president of Operations, during a Nov. 9 visit to EXPEC ARC. Accompanied by top officials from Exploration and Producing, Al-Falih recognized the Resbots team and EXPEC ARC, commending them on their major achievement. "Congratulations, EXPEC ARC! This is a tremendous step," Al-Falih said during the ceremony. "I am very proud of this award."

Al-Falih toured the center and received brief presentations from several technologists on current research and milestones, followed by a light luncheon with the EXPEC ARC team. "Each time I visit EXPEC ARC and learn about their initiatives and accomplishments, I leave feeling energized and confident of the future," Al-Falih said.

The award was given to "applaud the innovations and innovators of the global upstream petroleum industry, demonstrating the technological feats that are the hallmark of our industry." World Oil is considered the leading oil and gas upstream journal. It has been published for more than 90 years and has a worldwide circulation of 35,000 readers. Every year, it bestows its awards on the top companies in the industry. This is the first time Saudi Aramco has been recognized by World Oil.

The awards are judged by an independent advisory board composed of 15 leading figures in the industry and academia. Hundreds of industry leaders celebrated the finalists and winners of the 2008 awards. According to World Oil, the winner of the New Horizons Idea Award is "a game-changing company whose product is not necessarily commercially available at present that could redefine the industry’s thinking. The winner of this award symbolizes how the industry will operate in the future and will serve as a guidepost to the next generation of leadership entering today's upstream energy sector."