KAUST and Aramco break ground

Saudi Aramco and KAUST broke ground on the construction of a new state-of-the-art research center on December 16.

Saudi Aramco and KAUST broke ground on the construction of a new state-of-the-art research center on Friday, December 16, with an expected completion date of mid-2019.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by H.E. Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi minister of energy, industry and mineral resources and vice-chairman of the KAUST board of trustees; Amin H. Nasser, Saudi Aramco president and CEO; Jean-Lou Chameau, KAUST president; Nadhmi Al-Nasr, KAUST executive vice president for administration and finance; members of the KAUST board of trustees; and a delegation of government, academic and business dignitaries.

“Saudi Aramco and KAUST are leaders in technology development domestically and internationally," Al-Falih said. "Their unique roles in developing innovative and original research is essential to the future success of the energy industry in Saudi Arabia.”

“The research path of Saudi Aramco is dependent on the highly strategic partnership established between ourselves and KAUST,” said Nasser. “We were here at the beginning when the KAUST vision was created, and even back then it was clear to all that these two great organizations were linked with the utmost intent in creating the Kingdom’s emerging knowledge-based economy.”

The facility will allow Saudi Aramco to leverage its unique position within the R&D ecosystem at KAUST to accelerate the implementation of the company’s technology strategy. The facility will include laboratories and offices to support research in the areas of chemicals, intelligent systems, solar energy, reservoir engineering, computational modeling and environmental protection.

“At KAUST, we are committed to advancing science, innovation and technology through distinctive and collaborative research that relies upon the nurturing of ideas and talent,” said Chameau. “Partnering with Saudi Aramco on this new center is the latest in a series of shared successes to foster the transition to an innovation-driven economy sustained by intellectual capital and scientific discovery.”

The new center will be an 11,300 square meter research facility housing 132 scientists and researchers, and will be aimed at supporting Saudi Aramco’s upstream and downstream research domains as well as the company's environmental protection research efforts.

“This new building is about expanding our research needs as a business. As part of our new technology strategy we are looking to enable our research domains through capitalizing on the world-renowned scientists, exceptional facilities and international network of academic institutions at KAUST,” said Saudi Aramco CTO Ahmad Khowaiter.

The facility is intended to integrate with the University community and foster strong networks with other leading research and development organizations focused on solar energy, chemicals, fuel technology, robotics, hydrocarbon recovery, computational modeling and the marine environment.

“To achieve our aspiration of global leadership in energy-related technology development and deployment, Saudi Aramco has adopted a strategy to expand its global R&D footprint with further collaborations in academia and industry,” Nasser stated. “These partnerships will be crucial to the company and the national agenda for the next 15 years, and they are seen as much-needed enablers to accelerate the successful delivery of technologies across the entire value chain of the energy industry.”