Dammam, SPA — The election of a Saudi to the presidency of the prestigious International Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is seen as the best indication that Saudi Arabia, the world s biggest oil producer and exporter, has top-notch petroleum engineers.
Abdul Jaleel A. Al-Khalifa, Saudi Aramco manager of Reservoir Description and Simulation Department, was elected this month president of SPE, a global organization of petroleum engineers with more than 65,000 members and 150 sections in 60 countries around the world. The Saudi Arabian section of SPE has up to 700 members.
"I am deeply honored to head this organization; it is a credit not to me but for my country," he told the Jeddah-based Saudi Gazette.
He is the first petroleum engineer from Asia and Africa to head the society, which has chosen its past presidents from countries in North America and Europe.
Khalifa will formally take over the leadership of SPE as president-elect this September and becomes full-time president effective September 2006 up to September 2007, after which he will serve as immediate past president until September 2008.
"I will bring the image of Saudi Arabia to this organization, as a country of professionals, a country with a positive global outlook, peaceful, and endowed with openness," he told Saudi Gazette.
As head of the SPE, he said the world must know that the Kingdom has the people, the human resources who can lead in the global community.
"This is my first objective to let Saudi engineers and all Saudi professionals for that matter know that they have a place to play in their respective professions within the community of their international colleagues; that they must have that self-confidence to promote themselves and their country."
"We have excellent people that should be given the chance to shine," he added.
According to Khalifa, his second objective as head of SPE is to make known that Saudi Arabia has the expertise, resources, infrastructures, and people to become the hub of world petroleum industry. "We will encourage regional and international companies to move their technologies to the Kingdom, set up their operations here, and work together."
He said as the biggest producers and exporter of oil, the Kingdom should be the focal point of petroleum industry technology development. "We can build an energy city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a proposal I have advanced since 2000," he said.
Khalifa, who has been a manager in Saudi Aramco for 10 years, was elected to head the SPE not on the basis of company affiliation or country or regional link. He was chosen because of his personal professional achievements. SPE nominating committee and general membership look only on the individual qualifications of every president chosen to head the society.
Khalifa has served the society in various capacities as lecturer, technical editor, and chairs of various committees. He was named as distinguished SPE member and, prior to his election as president of the society, he was director at-large and chairman of the society”s international petroleum technology conference.
Khalifa earned his BS and MS degrees from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) and a Ph.D degree in petroleum engineering from Stanford University in 1988.
He plans to establish new SPE offices in Latin America and Russia, in addition to the existing offices in Dallas (Texas), London, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. The expansion of members to 100,000 before the end of his term is also another goal.
"Since 1957, the petroleum industry has been promoting competency and technology. This time, as president of SPE, I am going to pay attention to the promotion of the professional values in the petroleum industry," he said.