Saudi Arabia’s RPDC to launch first robot to drive offshore oil operations: CEO

Short Url
Updated 29 April 2022

Saudi Arabia’s RPDC to launch first robot to drive offshore oil operations: CEO

Saudi Arabia’s RPDC to launch first robot to drive offshore oil operations: CEO
  • RPDC, which helps local patent holders commercialize their ideas and turn them into products, worked with Saudi Aramco to develop its first robotic prototype to support offshore oil operations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Research Products Development Co., a subsidiary of PIF-owned TAQNIA, is launching its first robotic prototype this year to support offshore oil operations, its CEO said.  

“The robot will be used to inspect leakage in pipelines under the water,” RPDC CEO Abdulmohsen Almajnouni told Arab News.

RPDC, which helps local patent holders commercialize their ideas and turn them into products, worked with Saudi Aramco to develop this prototype.

“The prototype’s patent is owned by Aramco, and it’s developed and tested by RPDC’s team led by international robotic expert Nahid Sidki,” said Almajnouni. The robot will soon be ready for full-scale production.

Strategic alliances

RPDC was established as an effective technology development and commercialization engine by the Saudi Arabia Advanced Research Alliance.

SAARA is the first-of-its-kind alliance between leading organizations from the public and private sectors. The founding partners include Saudi Aramco, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, TAQNIA and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. 




RPDC CEO, Abdulmohsen Almajnouni 

RPDC aims to bridge the gap between national research and development and the market by developing technology innovation and patents into successful business opportunities.

The Riyadh-based company has successfully enhanced and developed technology innovation in the Kingdom and generated good revenue within eight years of its creation, Almajnouni said.

Before the creation of RPDC, patent applications in the Kingdom ended on the shelves, and no real action was taken to adopt them. Things changed after the company became operational.

Almajnouni added: “So, the idea was how can we establish an entity that takes the best practices in the world to develop this IP or even better advance the IP into a final product?”

Harnessing innovation

The company has been doing plenty of work on the intellectual property front for the last eight years and with great success.

“We have been doing this now over the last eight years. Of course, we have had a lot of challenges, but I can say proudly that recently we were able to kick-start three main projects and other various products,” Almajnouni said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The robot will be used to inspect leakage in pipelines under the water.

• RPDC, which helps local patent holders commercialize their ideas and turn them into products, worked with Saudi Aramco to develop this prototype.

• The prototype’s patent is owned by Aramco, and it’s developed and tested by RPDC’s team led by international robotic expert Nahid Sidki.

He added that over the past five years, the company has grown successfully thanks to the support of the firm’s founders, shareholders, government support and Saudi Aramco’s scientific endeavors. “I can proudly tell you that we are a company with around 30 people, and I would have a stable income stream in tens of millions of dollars annually. We execute various projects depending on their stage of commercialization. In addition, RPDC conducted market assessments for new companies,” Almajnouni told Arab News.

Almajnouni stressed that the company generates income from its partners like Aramco and SABIC. 




Nahid Sidki, chief technology officer of Research Products Development Company.

“The income comes from our customers because we are part of the Public Investment Fund. So, we are obligated to be a profit center. That means we offer services to our clients, and they pay for the services,” he added.

The other service provided by the RPDC is a strategic partnership with consultant firms. “But the challenge has always been how to take an IP from the lab to the industry,” Almajnouni said.

“We assess these IPs,” he continued, “we evaluate them as to which one would ultimately lead to a product that is needed and can be sold. So, we do this service called the intellectual property or patent review on assessment.”

Taking it to the drawing board

Almajnouni noted that the product the company receives is tested thoroughly by the technical team before drawing up a business plan.

“It should be a product that you can take; you can test it and understand how it works. You can even further improve it.

FASTFACTS

• RPDC was established as an effective technology development and commercialization engine by the Saudi Arabia Advanced Research Alliance.

• SAARA is the first-of-its-kind alliance between leading organizations from the public and private sectors. The founding partners include Saudi Aramco, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, TAQNIA and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

The other thing we do is prepare a complete business plan for clients, which includes an assessment, a market review followed by prototyping.”

Almajnouni admitted that the IP market, in general, is quite challenging.

Because this is a very challenging market, IP development is risky. I’m not sure how any company can grow easily because many of these IPs will take time,” he said.

A patent may not hit the market, or maybe it will. But what cannot be stopped is an idea whose time has come.


King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons
Updated 15 sec ago

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

RIYADH: The Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, has announced the launch of a new freight service at King Abdulaziz Port operated by the Swiss-based container group MSC.  

The latest connection will bolster the Dammam-based port as a focal point for regional and global trade while strengthening the Kingdom’s hub credentials in fulfillment of the ambitions of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

Dammam will also enjoy weekly sailings to eight maritime destinations spanning the Arabian Gulf, South Asia and Southern Africa.  

These include the ports of Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain, Khalifa in UAE, Qasim in Pakistan, Mundra and Hazira in India, Port Louis in Mauritius, and Durban and Coega in South Africa.  

The service started on Jan. 21 and will feature five vessels with an average carrying capacity exceeding 6,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

As a world-class logistics center boasting top-tier infrastructure and capabilities, King Abdulaziz Port was an obvious choice for shipping liners looking to expand their routes in 2022.  

Some notable liners include SeaLead Shipping’s Far East to Middle East service, Emirates Shipping Line’s Jebel Ali Bahrain Shuwaikh service, Gulf-India Express 2 service by Aladin Express and Maersk’s Shaheen Express service. 

As Saudi Arabia’s eastern maritime gateway and the Kingdom’s main port on the Arabian Gulf, King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam is the primary entryway for cargo headed to the country’s eastern and central regions from all over the world.  

It has a direct railway connection with the dry port in Riyadh. Saudi Arabian Oil Co. built the dock to meet the rapidly increasing demands of the national oil industry under the orders of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman.  

After further expansions, the port was officially renamed from Dammam Port to King Abdulaziz Port in 1961.

The port has 43 fully equipped berths with mega-ship capabilities, modern cargo handling equipment and general cargo support terminals. Other support terminals include a refrigerated cargo terminal, two cement terminals, a bulk grain terminal, an iron ore terminal, a vessel building berth, and oil and gas terminals.

The announcement comes just over a week after another trade link was added to the Kingdom’s Jubail Commercial Port.

The new shipping service line, India Gulf Service 1, has been added by Hapag-Lloyd, a German international shipping firm.

It will connect the Saudi port to Jebel Ali in the UAE, Karachi in Pakistan, Mundra in India, Sohar in Oman, Shuaiba in Kuwait, and Um Qasr in Iraq.

The new service will be launched weekly starting from Feb. 12 through voyages that include three ships with a total capacity of 2,400 twenty-foot equivalent units each.


China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 

China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 
Updated 22 min 37 sec ago

China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 

China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: China's new foreign minister Qin Gang wants to build stronger ties with Saudi Arabia and set up a China-Gulf free trade zone "as soon as possible", according to a ministry statement published late on Monday. 

Qin, who was just recently named to the position, made the suggestion in a telephone conversation with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, adding that China highly appreciates Saudi Arabia's consistent firm support on issues involving China's core interests. 

He said the sides should further expand cooperation on economy, trade, energy, infrastructure, investment, finance, and high technology. 

In addition, Qin pressed for continuously strengthening the China-Gulf strategic partnership and building "the China-Gulf Free Trade Zone as soon as possible." 

During the phone call, Prince Faisal congratulated Qin Gang on his new post as foreign minister and the two officials reviewed Saudi-Chinese relations. 

Prince Faisal said that Saudi Arabia regards relations with China as an important cornerstone of foreign relations, and that Saudi Arabia fully adheres to the one-China principle, according to the statement from the Chinese foreign ministry. 

They also discussed bilateral cooperation, developments in regional and international events, efforts exerted with regard to these events in order to enhance security and stability, and the most important issues of common concern. 

Qin, who just wrapped up a tour to several African countries, also had telephone conversations with Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra and Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafierro, according to state media. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. 

During the call, the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and ways of developing them in various fields. 

A number of issues of common concern were also discussed. 

This comes as Saudi Arabia remained the top supplier of crude oil to China in 2022, according to Reuters. 

The Kingdom shipped a total of 87.49 million tons of crude to China in 2022, equivalent to 1.75 million bpd, customs data showed, on par with the level in 2021. 

China’s state-backed oil refiners largely fulfilled their term contracts with Saudi Arabia in 2022 despite the sluggish domestic demand. 

Saudi Arabia is expected to remain a key, if not the dominant, crude exporter to China after President Xi Jinping’s visit to Riyadh in December, where he told Gulf leaders that China would work to buy oil in Chinese yuan, rather than US dollars. 

(With inputs from Reuters)


Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 

Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 
Updated 43 min 20 sec ago

Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 

Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 

CAIRO: Almost two-thirds of Saudi workers are considering changing jobs in 2023 as they seek higher pay,  a better work-life balance, and feel confident in their ability to land better positions, according to a survey by networking firm LinkedIn. 

Despite hiring levels slowing down in the Middle East in 2022 compared to 2021, LinkedIn’s research has shown that 68 percent of the Saudi workforce are optimistic about securing a new job. 

The growing appetite for switching employers is highest among millennials, who show almost 15 percent more confidence in job searching, interviewing and in their abilities to secure new and better jobs in 2023 than their younger colleagues. 

This is attributed to the fact that around 80 percent of the millennial age group – typically those born between 1980 and 1995 – feel a lack of investment from their employer, in addition to feeling undervalued, unmotivated, and underpaid. 

Gen Z employees – those under 25 years old – have reported great worry about job security as they are concerned that their employers have not dealt with the current economic uncertainty very well. 

“Despite economic uncertainty and the slump in global hiring that’s trickled its way into the region, we’re still seeing a significant number of professionals looking to either grow within their organizations or switch jobs in 2023, many driven by the desire for bigger salaries as the global cost of living goes up,” Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn in the Middle East and North Africa growth hub, said. 

Additionally, Saudi professionals are also confident in pushing for promotions and new opportunities with their current employers as seven out of ten employees feel assured of a pay raise. 

“Workforces clearly know their value within the job market and are taking charge of their career by investing in new skills. It’s clear that since the pandemic, professionals have become much more resilient and we’re seeing this in their confidence to tackle the year ahead,” Matar added. 

The survey reveals that while many workers feel more confident in their career prospects, concerns about job security and a preference for remote work options remain prevalent.

 Six out of every ten workers surveyed said that they would decline new in-office job offers in favor of hybrid or remote work. 


Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT
Updated 31 January 2023

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's real gross domestic product grew by 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, driven by a high increase in non-oil activities, according to the latest report released by the General Authority for Statistics. 

The GASTAT report noted that non-oil activities in the Kingdom rose 6.2 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2022, while oil activities rose by 6.1 percent during the same period. 

The report further added that government services activities increased by 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, compared to the same quarter in 2021. 

According to the GASTAT report, Saudi Arabia's economy grew by 8.7 percent in 2022, compared to 3.2 percent recorded in 2021, driven by a growth in oil activities by 15.4 percent. 

In 2022, non-oil activities and government services activities rose by 5.4 percent and 2.2 percent respectively. 


Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 
Updated 31 January 2023

Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

RIYADH: Oil prices extended losses on Tuesday as the threat of further interest rate increases and continued Russian crude flows canceled out demand recovery expectations from China. 

March Brent crude futures fell 5 cents or .06 percent to $84.85 per barrel by 08.15 a.m. Saudi time, while the more heavily traded April contracts fell by 32 cents or 0.38 percent to $84.18 a barrel. 

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped 33 cents, or 0.44 percent, to $77.57 a barrel. 

Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

The Russian government on Monday banned domestic oil exporters and customs bodies from adhering to Western-imposed price caps on Russian crude. 

The measure was issued to help enforce President Vladimir Putin’s decree of Dec. 27 that prohibited the supply of crude oil and oil products from Feb. 1, for five months, to nations that abide by the caps. 

The Group of Seven economies, the EU and Australia agreed on Dec. 5 to ban the use of Western-supplied maritime insurance, finance and brokering for seaborne Russian oil priced above $60 per barrel as part of Western sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine. 

The new Russian act bans corporates and individuals from including oil price cap mechanisms in their contracts. 

They also have to report to customs officials and the energy ministry any attempts to impose oil price caps. 

In addition, customs bodies have to prevent goods from leaving Russia if they find such mechanisms have been applied. 

CNOOC’s $3 billion UK portfolio sale halted on valuation gap 

CNOOC Ltd., China’s top offshore oil and gas producer, has halted a planned sale of its UK North Sea portfolio, which could have been valued at as much as $3 billion, according to a Bloomberg News report.  

Although initial offers failed to meet CNOOC’s expectations for the business, it could still resume a sale once conditions improve, the report added, citing people familiar with the matter.  

CNOOC did not immediately respond to Reuter's request for comment. 

Reuters has reported that CNOOC was preparing to exit its operations in Britain, Canada and the United States because of concerns in Beijing the assets could become subject to Western sanctions. 

(With input from Reuters)