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Leading Global Energy Innovation

Sponsored by Aramco
Monday May 01, 2023

Leading Global Energy Innovation

Aramco has always been invested in pursuing new technologies. Even from our earliest years, our technical expertise was focused on innovative projects like the Tapline, a pipeline which connected Saudi oil fields to the Mediterranean Coast across thousands of miles of desert. Though almost a century has passed since the company’s formation, we’re still pushing technological innovation to create sustainable energy solutions.

Our commitment to creating new energy solutions and embracing new technologies is demonstrated in our ever-expanding network of research centers. Alongside our Research and Development Center in Dhahran and our state-of-the-art 4IR Center, Aramco operates the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center – Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC). This Dhahran-based center focuses on innovations in drilling, production engineering, and upstream operations like geology, geophysics, and reservoirs. We also operate the Aramco Research Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (ARC KAUST), which focuses on using machine learning, digital prototyping, AI, robotics, and advanced materials to develop sustainable hydrocarbon solutions.

Much of our R&D work is driven by machine learning and other 4IR technologies. 4IR technologies provide a wide range of benefits to everything from productivity and profitability to safety, efficiency, and sustainability. One example is Virtual Flow Metering (VFM), a collaboration between our EXPEC ARC team and our other research centers. VFM uses machine learning software to predict oil, water, and gas flows via an AI algorithm which is fed pressure and temperature data. No physical meters are needed.

Our upstream operations are highly optimized with the help of data science and high-performance computing solutions, including seismic imaging, reservoir simulation, and geological modeling. At ARC KAUST, for example, machine learning and AI technology enable us to digitally predict and simulate operational performance, minimizing field visits and experiments required for data collection.

Aramco’s R&D centers also participate in the development of emission lowering technologies. One major project is mobile carbon capture (MCC), which is designed to help lower the transport sector’s carbon footprint. MCC is not quite market ready but shows significant promise - our latest version reduces up to 25% of a vehicle’s CO2 emissions. Researchers at ARC KAUST are currently working towards advancing the use and development of non-metallic materials for piping, tools, and construction by researching the use of carbon and glass fibers. We operate several non-metallic centers worldwide which further contribute to these efforts.

Robots, drones, and advanced sensing systems have transformed many of our operations. Our research teams have developed a variety of innovative robotic technologies including a Hybrid Inspection Drone that uses AI and magnets to land on elevated pipes before inspecting them, and SWIM-R, an undersea pipeline inspection robot. We’ve also developed the Detection of Possible Corrosion Under Insulation system (DPCUI), which uses infrared imagery to detect corrosion beneath insulation.

Additionally, EXPEC ARC has developed an autonomous vehicle called SpiceRack, which conducts seismic surveys on the seabed in half the time and 30% of the cost of conventional methods. 200 of these vehicles have already successfully operated and explored subsurface points of the seabed for hydrocarbon resources.

Aramco’s transformative digital solutions focus on addressing global energy challenges important to not only us, but to the world at large. Our research centers play a critical role in our R&D strategy – by creating a web of connected technologies, they diversify Aramco’s product portfolio while also creating sustainable, cost-effective solutions.