Oil and Gas Middle East and Refining and Petrochemicals Middle East recently held its eighth annual award ceremony to recognize excellence in Middle East upstream and downstream industries. Abeer Olayan, a petroleum scientist at the EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) who develops new materials for drilling fluids and cementing, was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the oil and gas industry.
Of the 12 companies and individuals that were awarded this year, Saudi Aramco received three awards and three honorable mentions across different categories.
Abeer Olayan, is the recipient of the MIT Ibn Khaldun Fellowship for Saudi Arabian Women (initiated by HE Khalid A. Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, and Chairman of the Saudi Aramco Board of Directors) for female Ph.D. holders in universities Kingdomwide.
In her work to develop chemical products utilizing natural resources, Olayan collaborates with MIT’s Material Science and Engineering Department and has developed new shear thickening fluids based on nano-silica that can be used for different Saudi Aramco drilling applications. Her inspiration for the innovation came from the medical industry, mimicking dynamic biopolymers in a blood clotting cascade. Silica is a major component in sand, available abundantly as a natural resource in Saudi Arabia.
Olayan’s research with advanced polymers, as well as synthetic and smart materials, involves collaborative studies with Saudi Aramco’s Global Research Centers in Boston and Houston. She conducted a class on “The Power of Science in Overcoming Challenges in the Oil and Gas Industry” at MIT, being the first woman from Saudi Aramco to do so.
Olayan has also developed a new material that will be deployed in the field next month. The material will resolve loss circulation in drilling operations by replacing expensive imported raw material with locally manufactured material.
“I feel very proud to be receiving the Woman of the Year Award,” she said. “This outstanding recognition not only represents me but every woman in Saudi Aramco who works hard alongside her fellow men to lead the company to success. Winning would not have been possible without the support I’ve received from my family and Saudi Aramco management.”
“This is the first industry recognition EXPEC ARC has received that specifically highlights achievements by a female researcher,” said Ali A. Al-Meshari, EXPEC ARC manager. “The numerous inroads the department has implemented over the years to ensure equal opportunities for women’s development is certainly coming to fruition.”