(EnergyAsia, May 26 2015, Tuesday) — Saudi Arabia’s state-owned energy firm Aramco has opened an energy research centre in Beijing to help drive its innovation and technology development programme in China.

Saudi petroleum minister Ali I. Al-Naimi officially opened the 4,400-square metre Beijing Research Center (BRC), the 10th in the company’s global research and development network, early this month. It will be managed and operated by Aramco’s office in Beijing.

The inauguration ushers in a new era of collaboration between Saudi Arabia and China, founded on a commitment to knowledge, research, and innovation, Al-Naimi said in keynote remarks at the opening attended by government officials from the two countries as well as business partners. Among the Saudi officials present were Yahya Al-Zaid, the kingdom’s ambassador to China, Amin H. Nasser, Aramco’s acting president and CEO, Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer; Ahmed A. Al-Subaey, executive director for marketing, supply, and joint ventures coordination, and Ibrahim Q. Al-Buainain, president of Aramco Asia.

“Saudi Arabia recognises that the participation of its leading companies in China’s innovation system today brings great potential for mutual benefit tomorrow,” Mr Al-Naimi said.

“It is a part of our plan to engage in global innovation in regions that have complementary expertise and capacities.”
Aramco’s global research programme encompasses facilities in Houston, Detroit, and Boston in North America, as well as European facilities in Aberdeen in the UK, Paris in France, and Delft in the Netherlands.

The Beijing centre extends the company’s research network in Asia, joining the CO2 Management Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, South Korea.

These facilities complement Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) and the Research and Development Center (R&DC) activities in Dhahran, and another key Saudi research center in Thuwal at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

“This research facility will add momentum as we produce fit-for-purpose innovation and technologies tied to our objectives and business needs,” said Mr Nasser, a former senior vice president who was promoted to Aramco’s top job on May 1.

“These areas are crucial to Saudi Aramco’s strategic goals in discovery, recovery, sustainability, and reliability, and therefore, they are the centre’s main research thrust. Another key enabler is that China has a world-renowned expertise in chemical and enhanced oil recovery.”

Mr Al-Buainan said: “We view the BRC as the nucleus of technology and innovation development, and will bring about desired results such as the development of cutting-edge technologies, not only in the upstream field, but also in the downstream sector, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.”

BRC will focus on the following areas of research:
Geophysics: Fostering 3D automation by developing and implementing high-performance 3D algorithms.
Geology:  Adopting multi-scale geologic modelling and basin analysis.
Reservoir engineering:  Enhancing oil recovery through the development of new surfactants and polymers that are specific to the unique properties of our reservoirs.

BRC director Khalid O. Rufaii said: “One of the main objectives of the centre is to create science and develop technology that fundamentally changes and improves how we explore for oil and gas, extend reserves, and manage reservoirs.”