Saudi Arabia Empty Quarter gas: Six key people

09 May 2008
The top six executives hunting for gas in Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter: Abdulaziz al-Judaimi, Amin al-Nasser, Patrick Allman-Ward, Lorenzo Casati, Shicheng Wang and Radik Khusnullin.

Abdulaziz al-Judaimi

Position: Chairman, South Rub al-Khali Company (Srak), vice-president, northern area oil operations, Saudi Aramco

Biography: Abdulaziz al-Judaimi is one of the most powerful individuals in the Saudi energy sector. As Saudi Aramco's northern area oil operations chief, he has overall responsibility for the production of 4 million barrels a day (b/d) of crude. Al-Judaimi has also been heavily involved in developing the kingdom's gas strategy via the troubled Natural Gas Initiative. Since international oil majors were invited to participate in exploration of the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) in 2004, Al-Judaimi has served on the board of Luksar, a joint venture with Russia's Lukoil, and, since July 2007, as the replacement for Aramco's operations chief, Khalid Falih, as chairman of the UK/Dutch Shell Group-led Srak venture. With Srak recently granted an 18-month drilling extension by the Saudi Oil Ministry, the pressure is on for Al-Judaimi to deliver.

Contact Tel: (+9663) 872 0115

Amin al-Nasser

Position: Acting head, exploration and production, Saudi Aramco

Biography: When Abdullah al-Saif retired as Aramco's head of exploration and production in January this year, Amin al-Nasser took over the position. While much of his focus is on commissioning the Khursaniyah and Hawiyah gas plants by mid-July, the progress and development of the search for gas in the Empty Quarter is equally important. With a host of other projects in danger of falling behind schedule, Al-Nasser is under pressure to make a success of one of the most high-profile exploration deals yet seen in the kingdom. His previous roles at Aramco include vice-president of petroleum engineering and development, following a 20-year career with Aramco as a field petroleum engineer. Al-Nasser graduated from Dhahran's King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in 1982. He is also a member of the board of directors at Jubail-based Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery (Sasref).

Contact Tel: (+9663) 872 0115

Patrick Allman-Ward

Position: CEO, Srak

Biography: Patrick Allman-Ward is CEO of one of Shell's most high-profile gas exploration efforts. Originally a joint venture of Shell, France's Total and Aramco, Allman-Ward was forced to renegotiate the original agreement after Total pulled out earlier this year, unimpressed by prospects for finding gas amid rising exploration costs. With the largest exploration area of the four joint venture companies operating in the Empty Quarter, at 209,000 square kilometres, Allman-Ward faces a major challenge to understand the geological model of the southern Rub al-Khali Basin where Srak operates. He has worked with Shell for nearly 25 years, principally as an explorer. Prior to joining Srak, he was Shell's Asia-Pacific vice-president for exploration. Allman-Ward obtained his PhD in mineral exploration and mining geology from Imperial College, London, in 1981.

Contact Tel: (+9663) 895 8800

Lorenzo Casati

Position: CEO, EniRepSa Gas

Biography: As CEO of EniRepSa, the operating group comprising 50 per cent Italy's Eni, 30 per cent Spain's Repsol and 20 per cent Saudi Aramco, Lorenzo Casati is responsible for completing the drilling of up to four explor_ation wells during the group's initial five-year exploration period, which began in August 2004. The joint venture has found nothing substantial during its first phase of explor_ation and is waiting to hear about a contract extension following Srak's recent approval from the Saudi Oil Ministry. Casati studied geology at Milan University before joining the exploration and production division of Eni (then Agip) in 1979. He has held a variety of different positions at Eni including new ventures manager for Africa and the Middle East and exploration manager for the Americas and the North Sea. Casati has also held managerial positions in Yemen, Egypt and Algeria.

Contact Tel: (+9663) 887 9908

Shicheng Wang

Position: CEO, Sino Saudi Gas

Biography: Shicheng Wang was appointed CEO of Sino Saudi Gas, a joint venture of Aramco (20 per cent) with Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration & Production (80 per cent), in late 2004. The company, which has one of the smaller areas to drill, reported an initial gas flow from its latest well in early November but has yet to announce any commercial discoveries to its main board. Wang had previously served as manager of new business development at Sinopec from 2002 to 2003 and, prior to that, as deputy director of the science and technology department at China National Star Petroleum Corporation from 1997 to 2001. From 1987 to 1996, he worked for the petroleum geology research arm of China's Geology & Mineral Resources Ministry. Wang has a master's degree from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences and gained a PhD from China's University of Petroleum in 2002.

Contact Tel: (+9663) 858 8484

Radik Khusnullin

Position: General manager, Luksar

Biography: Radik Khusnullin heads up the Luksar consortium, an 80:20 joint venture of Russia's Lukoil Overseas and Aramco. Luksar plans to drill a total of nine wells in its 29,930-square-kilometre contract area, as part of its $215m, five-year exploration programme ending in 2010. Luksar is thought to have discovered up to 650 million barrels of condensate during exploration, although it remains unclear if this can be classed as a commercial discovery under the terms of its agreement. Luksar is expected to receive further guidance from the Saudi Oil Ministry shortly. Khusnullin, who became general manager of Luksar in 2007, was previously Lukoil's regional director for Egypt. He worked in Lukoil's western Siberian office from 1990 to 2002, following a two-year stint in the army after graduating from Russia's Ufa State Petroleum Technological University.

Contact Tel: (+9663) 859 7500

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