Newly named AAPG Honorary Member Abdulla Al Naim, manager of the Area Exploration Department for Saudi Aramco and a towering figure in Middle East exploration and AAPG leadership activities in the region, died unexpectedly Dec. 31. He was 57.
Tributes to him began almost immediately from all parts of the world as news of his death spread. AAPG Executive Director David Curtiss called Al Naim “a visionary leader and geoscientist – the energy profession has lost a tireless advocate for the advancement of science and technology to find and develop the oil and natural gas the world so desperately needs.”
Biographer Abdulkader M. Afifi wrote that Al Naim was born and raised in Dammam, “literally between oil facilities and within sight of Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran.”
“Abdulla’s true passion was exploration,” Afifi noted.
Al Naim received his bachelor’s degree in geology from King Saud University in Riyadh, then began his career with Aramco in 1978 as a wellsite geologist. This was followed by a number of administrative assignments within the company, leading to the positions of manager of the area exploration division (1996), manager of the exploration operations department (2002) and manager of the reservoir characterization department (2004).
He became Saudi Aramco’s executive director of exploration in November 2004, and was appointed vice president in April 2006.
At one point he also held the position of acting vice president of petroleum engineering and development, being responsible for the management and development of all Saudi Aramco oil and gas fields.
An AAPG member since 1986, Al Naim’s leadership for the Association in the Middle East Region has been constant, consistent and exemplary.
In 1989 he was instrumental in the founding of the AAPG affiliate Dhahran Geological Society, and then served as the group’s first president. At that same time he served on AAPG’s International Committee.
He was president of the Middle East Region for 2004-06.
He served on the organizing committees of the regional Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) technical conferences, and was a member of the technical and executive committees of every GEO conference since its inception in 1994, serving as the chair in 2006.
At the time of his death Al Naim was a member the AAPG Corporate Advisory Board, and was instrumental in providing guidance and corporate support for AAPG conferences, workshops, field trips and publications on both the local and international levels.
Al Naim received several awards for his leadership, including the AAPG International Special Commendation Award in 1999 and an AAPG Distinguished Service Award in 2006.
Al Naim most recently was awarded AAPG honorary membership. He will be honored posthumously at this year’s AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, set May 19-22 in Pittsburgh.