Aramco Rabigh Refinery Rabigh Refinery
Photograph Contributed by Saudi Aramco

DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA (February 01, 2005) - The past year was a record-breaker for Saudi Aramco Refining, as workers teamed up to create milestones in production, profits and safety.

"It was a year in which, essentially, all major objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were achieved or surpassed," said Khalid G. Al-Buainain, vice president of Refining.

Al-Buainain said Refinery employees engaged a Refining Road Map which contained several initiatives to lower operating costs, and shifted toward seeing all of Saudi Aramco's in-Kingdom refineries as an intertwined refining community.

Revenue from oil and NGL products was at a record level. "The healthy product prices that were enjoyed in 2004 certainly contributed to the excellent financial results, but efforts to drive down operating cost via the Refining Road Map initiatives were the primary reasons for not only the exceptional financial results but also the overall outstanding achievements," Al-Buainain said.

The five refineries also notched impressive safety records. Rabigh, Jiddah and Yanbu' refineries were presented U.S. National Safety Council (NSC) awards for Excellence in Occupational Safety. At Ras Tanura (RT) Refinery, the milestone was an improved insurance rating following a recent survey of the facilities.

"The improved insurance rating is a stamp of approval of the work that has been done to move the refinery toward best-in-class status in this important area of our business," said Ibrahim K. Al-Naimi, RT Refinery Operations manager.

Each refinery also did well in plant reliability, placing Refining among the industry leaders despite several major test-and-inspection (T&I) and upgrade projects.

Perhaps the most notable improvement came in T&I activities at Rabigh and Ras Tanura refineries. The 400,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Rabigh Refinery was shut down for 34 days, during which a number of upgrades were performed. Ras Tanura Refinery's 325,000-bpd crude unit and the 45,000-bpd hydrocracker were shut down for about one month for similar T&I activities.

Completion of the two T&Is in record time enabled Refining to exceed its 2004 crude-processing targets by a significant margin. Other less time-consuming, but equally important, plant shutdowns were completed at Riyadh, Jiddah and Yanbu' refineries.

Workforce development was given particular attention in 2004. Refining established an ambitious out-of-Kingdom internship program with some major technology and equipment suppliers, while a number of engineers were also assigned to the Rabigh and Fujian joint venture projects.

"Although human resource development has always been key to our success, these days, we are putting a lot more emphasis on employee development to ensure that we have the right mix of highly skilled employees who are not only technically competent, but also are able to adapt to rapid changes in an ever-increasing competitive business environment," said Majid Y. Al-Mugla, Western Region Refining general manager.