Saudi Arabia Oil and Gas was a media supporter of IPTC 2020.

The 12th edition of International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC) attracted a record-breaking attendance of over 18,000 attendees from 1,080+ companies, and 75+ countries.

This was the first international multi-disciplinary, inter-society oil and gas conference and exhibition to be held in Saudi Arabia. The event received the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Saudi Aramco serving as the Exclusive Host.

Founded in 2005, IPTC has established itself as the flagship multidisciplinary oil and gas technical event in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is sponsored by four of the leading industry organisations in oil and gas: the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG); the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE); the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG); and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). IPTC is focused on the dissemination of new and current technology, best practices and multi-disciplinary activities designed to emphasise the importance of the value chain and maximising asset value. The knowledge, capabilities and strengths of the participating countries and the sponsoring societies global membership, over the spectrum of multi-disciplinary technologies, are central to the success of the conference and the corresponding exhibition.

HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, KSA Minister of Energy

HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, addressing the audience at the Opening Ceremony

At the opening ceremony, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, commended the efforts of all the young women and men who organised the event with a standing ovation. He also said, “Our ambition, vision, excitement, and determination, is to lead this transformation and transmit transition with all its challenges and opportunities.”  His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Board, Saudi Aramco made a strong point by saying, “If we can offer real solutions to real energy needs of the many, not just the few, then I am confident that our industry’s place at the heart of global energy for decades to come, will be assured”.

Mahmoud M. Abdulbaqi, Chairman, ARGAS, said, “The issues facing all of us in the upstream industry are getting more complex and their solutions are proving to be more challenging, and require the usage of the most advanced technologies. IPTC provides the most suitable platform for discussions and exchange of ideas about these technologies and integrated solutions.”

Also speaking at the event was HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General, OPEC, who observed that, “IPTC2020 has already become a very successful premier event from the number of participation of delegates, number of companies exhibiting, and the quality of panel sessions. You can see everybody is happy to be here.”

“These are exciting times for the Kingdom, as we come together behind an ambitious Saudi Vision 2030,” said Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani, Senior Vice President, Upstream, Saudi Aramco. As the Executive Committee Chairman of IPTC 2020, he announced that the conference would return to Saudi Arabia in 2 years, with the 2021 conference to be held in Malaysia.

Figure 8 - Ministerial Session

The highly-engaging Ministerial Dialogue touched on several important issues in the industry

This year’s IPTC featured a Ministerial Dialogue Session, three Plenary Sessions namely, CEO, Executive and Energy Think Tank Plenary Sessions, five Panel Sessions, and a Society Presidents’Panel Session, that featured some of the world’s leading executives, offering their perspectives on the state of the oil and gas industry. These sessions examined the dynamic energy scene, the new energy era, the fourth industrial revolution, emerging technologies, the future of gas, talent development and diversity, and unconventional oil and gas. The IPTC “Excellence in Project Integration” award winner and finalists were also commended at the conference.

The Ministerial Dialogue covered a wide range of issues in the industry such as sustainability, oil price volatility and the future of the oil and gas industry. Speakers who shared their views in the session included, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, KSA Minister of Energy; HE Shaikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Oil, Kingdom of Bahrain; Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO, Total; Darren Woods, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Jason Bordoff, Professor at Columbia University and founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy.

The KSA Minister of Energy, emphasised that,“The world needs a stable oil market, sustainable supply and demand growth, predictability, and production that has little impact on the environment. Market volatility doesn’t allow companies to prepare properly, he said, because they don’t know if price swings are temporary or not. Generally, we don’t like volatility, that is the goal of OPEC, to promote the stability of prices, supply, and demand”.

The Bahrain Minster of Oil defended the actions of the OPEC-plus group against critics who said it undermined free market economics. “After the global financial crisis of 2008, cheap credit funded the shale revolution in the US. The latest move by OPEC, which His Royal Highness was leading, certainly helped bring stability to the markets. It’s all about investments in the long term”, said HE Shaikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.

Figure 4 - Exhibtion Floor 1

Visitors to the Exhibition

Darren Woods, Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation said, “Fundamentals are strong, the demand will be there over time, so we have got to invest to make sure that we are in the position to meet that demand. You need to be efficient; you need to be cost-competitive, and then let the markets take you where the markets are going to take you.”

Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said his company is moving toward becoming an energy company rather than just an oil and gas company. “Companies are providing hydrocarbons because there is demand for them, and politicians need to emphasise the complexities of the energy transition as well as the associated costs.”

Jason Bordoff, Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy, sharing his thoughts on the market, said that, “Another dynamic that is really importantis the new dynamic of shale in the global market, not just of how much there is, but how short cycle it is and how quickly it can respond to market changes, even though that takes 6 to 12 months, the market knows that it’s coming, and so in response to that, we see, as we did over the last few weeks, prices go up, producers hedge, and that helps ease prices back. There is this new fundamental dynamic in the market, I think, is changing the way people, traders and financial markets respond to these geo-political events.”

The CEO Plenary Session, focused on the theme, Vision to Prosperity: A New Energy Era Emerges, with a panel of global industry experts including the CEOs of Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Total, PETRONAS and Woodside Energy.

Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin Nasser said, “We look at this transition in a pragmatic light, because surely, its foremost driver is a desire to move to a lower carbon energy mix or, more precisely, an energy mix with lower greenhouse gas emissions. But, when it comes to transitioning, oil and gas is not yet halfway there, and there is a lot more low-hanging fruit”.

Wan Zulkiflee bin Wan Ariffin, PETRONAS President and Group CEO commented, “Different governments will adopt different policies, and only time will tell if these policies are successful or not. Technology will be a key differentiator for all the organisations in this industry. I think there will be more non-traditional partnerships moving forward, many unconventional partnerships between technology companies and oil and gas.”

Jeff Miller, Halliburton’s Chairman, President, and CEO, said, “When I think about the path to prosperity in the long term, the future may look different, particularly as it requires collaboration in our industry to drive things like better technology adoption, better operational efficiency, and, most importantly, better capital efficiency. I think that some of the things that have traditionally challenged our industry will also become opportunities for us, because I think there is a path to do what we do today more efficiently and attract investors back into the energy industry.”

Woodside Energy CEO and Managing Director Peter J. Coleman commented that top-notch young talent only wants to work for an industry that has a bright future. “While harnessing advanced technologies are a good way to demonstrate that oil and gas is a dynamic and future-focused industry, the best way that it will attract new blood into the industry is to show that it is serious about taking on climate change. We are part of the solution. We support a transition to a lower-carbon future, and we intend to play a role in it. As the world deals with the consequences of climate change, the pressure to reduce emissions will only increase, and as an industry we must be ready to develop the most climate-friendly product we can possibly produce. This figures into the design and operation of our facilities, and our other efforts to offset our emissions. We must develop resources in the most carbon-efficient way possible, and it’s up to us as industry leaders to make sure that’s prioritised”.

Baker Hughes Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said the industry faces a “fundamental challenge” around the narrative of oil and gas that it must address if it wants to maintain a social license to operate. “We are an industry that is hated by many but essential to everyone. As we go through the increase in population and the energy transition, it is clear that there will be more required of energy as people move into the middle class.”

Crowd Picture

Attendees from around the globe included industry leaders, professionals, decision and policy makers, as well as senior government officials

Other sessions which took place over three days included a topical luncheon address on “The Role of the Oil and Gas Industry in Sustainable Development and Human Prosperity”, by Sami Alnuaim of Saudi Aramco, who served as 2019 SPE President. Three “Ask the Expert” sessions featured leading academics and industry professionals who discussed oil recovery and simulation and innovative seismic technology, among other topics.

Two project case study sessions reviewed the application of innovative technologies and practices. Two seminars covered the estimation, classification, and reporting of reserves and resources, and new applications of machine learning to oil and gas exploration and production.

More than 100 technical sessions took place across the three days, covering a range of disciplines, including geosciences, reservoir engineering, drilling and completions, facilities, development and production, the unconventional business, and improved and enhanced recovery.

In total, the 2020 IPTC Programme Committee reviewed more than 3,500 paper submissions and selected more than 700 to form the event’s comprehensive agenda. A diversity and inclusion workshop was also held a day before the conference. This workshop created a basis for a reflection on best practices to increase diversity, promote inclusion, and to encourage the concept of belonging.

Figure 3- Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion Panel Session, which took place on day 3 of IPTC 2020

In addition to the conference and exhibition, one of the key youth-focused programmes was the exclusive IPTC Education Week. This programme aims to give students from around the world a clear insight into the industry they are about to join and provide them with the opportunity to interact with a number of major industry employers who are looking to recruit the best talent from institutions around the world.

This year, over 400 student applications were received globally, of which 93 students representing 64 institutions and 29 countries, were invited to take part in the programme. During the five-day programme, students were divided into groups to work on an assigned project, to share their ideas and best practices, to address issues and brainstorm solutions. Furthermore, the students participated in a field development game, ‘Unlock the Reserves’, where they went through the complete upstream cycle and had to create a reservoir model, a full development plan as well as a facility plan to ensure the deliverability of oil production. The students also had the chance to attend the IPTC exhibition and sessions, and took part in two dynamic field trips to the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and the UNESCO World Heritage Al-Ahsa.

Another exciting programme targeted towards young members was the Emerging Leaders Forum which was opened with a welcome from HE Shaikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Oil, Kingdom of Bahrain. The objective of the programme was to provide audience with the industry insight they need to develop the essential tools for leadership including collaboration to the highest level, exploration of leadership competencies of the future, and the necessary communication skills for the emerging leaders of the 4th Industrial Revolution. A total of 87 emerging leaders were welcomed to enjoy the forum.

Figure - 9 Students

Student winners at the Closing Ceremony

A Science Teachers Workshop was presented to 75 science school teachers from around the Kingdom to highlight how energy works, and provided teachers with interactive, age appropriate experiments using basic household items to illustrate energy concepts in a classroom context. Awad Bin Mohammed Al Malki, Director of Private Education,Ministry of Education, addressed the teachers and expressed his wishes to incorporate energy education, and many of the aspects explored during the workshop, into classroom curriculum.

Mahmoud M. Abdulbaqi, Chairman, IPTC Board of Directors and Chairman, ARGAS, said,”As we close this edition of IPTC, the first ever to be held in Saudi Arabia, we are filled with overwhelming pride as a result of the record-breaking success and the opportunity to hold IPTC at a key hub of the global energy industry. This year’s IPTC has surpassed expectations in terms of top-level speakers, technical content, and an undeniably impressive number of attendees at over 18,000.”