The Future Of Downstream Oil and Gas Technology: Five Essential Questions Answered

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Oil and Gas Production Content Series

As the global demand for refined products and petrochemicals is growing, Saudi Arabia is heavily investing in the expansion of its downstream oil and gas facilities and the building of new plants.

Downstream Oil and Gas

As a response to these developments, Oil & Gas IQ interviewed Eng. Sameer Al-Humaidan,to find out how can R&D support the development of the upstream and downstream industry, how to improve personnel performance, as well as what are the advantages and disadvantages of renovating an existing plant and some considerations on implementation.

Eng. Sameer Al-Humaidan is Vice President of Technical Affairs at Tasnee and board member and partner of many local and global downstream oil and gas support industrial companies, providing diversified products and opportunities for local talents. He has been involved in the management of high profile Saudi petro-based companies and he is also a highly skilled and experienced negotiator having extensive experience in leading change. Having previously worked for Saudi Aramco and Saudi Electricity Company, Mr. Sameer joined Tasnee in 2003 and has over 30 years of technical and leadership experience.

How can R&D support the growth of the downstream oil and gas industry in the GCC?

The R&D activities in the GCC region can yet play a vital role in supporting and driving the growth of the petrochemical downstream industry through:

  • Expanding the existing downstream market via the launch of new applications and the mimicking as well as pioneering new processing technologies
  • Encouraging the establishment of core accommodating industries where the petrochemical downstream industry acts as a feeding industry for components manufacturing
  • Acting as interim setup in providing technical customer services until the evolvement of a mature supporting infrastructure
  • Manifesting a one-stop-shop to accelerate the bridging of the knowledge gap for the acquisition, adoption and localization of new advances in technologies, systems and regulations throughout the industrial structure
  • Incubating and preparing newly formed businesses for a spin-off to a commercial scale
  • Forming a robust platform for the facilitation of the technology and knowhow transfer
  • Fostering the realignment of the academia to provide professional resources for the downstream industry

How can personnel performance be improved?

Improving personnel performance is a continuous process whose elements depend on the position within the organization. Although such elements need to be relevant to the existing position, they are usually designed to consider the readiness for a potential promotion to a position with increased responsibilities. Having this in mind, the process shall be systematic and planned with specific objectives that can be delivered through:

  • Benchmarking of your competency with your pears on the organization scale, as well as on the national, regional and global scale to point out the gaps in your competency and hence to plan your personal development requirements
  • Updating your knowledge on the technical advances, variation of the financial aspects, changes in the market movement and the new managerial systems relevant to the business so that you become ready to deal with changes in the business environment
  • Mastering relevant new techniques on critical aspect of the business through training courses, attendance of conferences, workshops and seminars, as well as self learning process
  • Maintaining and nurturing influential and professional network of contacts to be fully aware of advances and changes in the trend of the business

How can you ensure that the technical and professional expertise of Saudi employees meets the industry's requirement?

Ensuring that the technical and professional expertise of the Saudi employees meets the industry’s requirements can be achieved by following various mechanisms, such as:

  • The design and implementation of extensive training programs for all levels of Saudi staff on technical and interpersonal skills
  • Involving the Saudi staff in technology and knowhow transfer programs with technology providers
  • Continuous evaluation of their competency and performance to build up the required experience and skills
  • Selecting highly competent mentors and advisors to guide the young Saudi employees

What are the advantages and disadvantages of renovating an existing plant as opposed to building a new facility?


  • It can be achieved at a low cost
  • It can be delivered in a short period
  • It can be done in stages with minimum interruption in the production to keep the cash flow
  • No extra training is required as it maintains the same operation system


  • It does not touch the operation technology and hence misses the benefits of introducing new technology in the operation efficiency and product quality
  • It does not consider the increase of the production capacity and the product diversification
  • It cannot incorporate all new safety aspects of a new facility

What are the two most important areas that need more attention when implementing a refinery or a petrochemical plant?

In my opinion, the appointment of qualified human resources throughout the project cycle is one of the most important aspects. This is to ensure that not only the execution of the project gets done in the proper way, meaning within budget and schedule, but to make sure the proper human capital is employed to operate the facility efficiently. The industry on the world scale currently suffers from the lack of qualified resources.

The more experienced people are nearing retirement, while the new generation has lesser interest in hands-on jobs. The mitigations of the gap needs a serious look on a global scale.



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