As a child, Sa’id Al-Hajri, Saudi Aramco’s acting manager of the Upstream Ventures department, used to comb the beach and desert picking up shells and rocks with a curiosity that eventually led him to the field of geology.
After holding eight different positions at the company since he joined in 1986, Al-Hajri is now beginning his greatest outside role, as president of the AAPG Middle East Region, which he assumed in July.
Because the Middle East is the world’s petroleum hub, Al-Hajri said one of his goals as president is to bring as much knowledge to the area as possible to enable Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries to advance their exploration efforts.
“It’s a great satisfaction to be able to help create the necessary networks in the Middle East, bring in expertise from around the world, host our own workshops and discuss issues specific to the Middle East right here in the Middle East,” he said.
“You don’t have to fly all over the world to go to a geoscience workshop. We can bring it all here.”
In Al-Hajri’s view, the Middle East should be a “center of excellence in petroleum geology” that attracts geoscientists from around the world.
“We have the world’s largest oil and gas fields, from which we have learned important lessons that we can share with the rest of the world,” he said.
He stressed that as technology and knowledge continue to advance, sharing information and new discoveries through AAPG and other organizations will add to the success of the entire energy industry.
“The AAPG is undoubtedly the best organization that can help the region in bringing in geologic knowledge and creating the professional networks needed in the Middle East,” he said.
Al-Hajri credits AAPG with promoting the Middle East GEO Conferences (GEO), founded by Saudi Aramco, which bring together geoscientists from Middle Eastern countries to discuss the area’s particular challenges.
“GEO is on every geologist’s calendar now,” he said.
Noting that many areas of the Middle East are underexplored, Al-Hajri said the convening of exploration geologists in the Middle East through AAPG will help create a conducive and innovative environment that will lead to further discoveries in uncharted areas.
Al-Hajri has much to bring to the table, having worked at Saudi Aramco as the chief explorationist of the eastern area exploration division; administrator of the exploration data management division; chief geologist for the regional mapping division; and many other positions.
During his career, he and his teams have made numerous and significant oil and gas discoveries in the offshore Arabian Gulf and in onshore northeastern Saudi Arabia.
“It gives me great pleasure and a deeper satisfaction to see that some of these reservoirs and fields that we helped discover and develop, such as Karan, Hasbah and Arabiyah, are now on-stream, creating wealth and fueling Saudi Arabia’s industrial growth,” he said.
Al-Hajri also has authored and co-authored more than 20 scientific papers in refereed journals and was the chief editor of the book, “Stratigraphic Palynology of the Paleozoic of Saudi Arabia.” He also was a member of the editorial advisory board of “GeoArabia,” the journal of the Middle East petroleum geosciences.
In addition to the AAPG, Al-Hajri is a member of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists (AASP); Society for Petroleum Engineers (SPE); Dhahran Geological Society (DGS); British Micropaleontological Society (BMS); the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE); and the Commission Internationale de la Microflore du Paléozoique (CIMP).
A palynologist by training, Al-Hajri regards himself as a student of natural history who in his spare time has ventured beyond the world of geology to explore the field of archaeology. He has often collaborated with archeologists of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities in studying sites of old ruins in the desert and piecing together ancient habitats.
“We can determine the food people ate, the plants they grew on that ancient landscape and if they had domesticated animals or had any primitive industrial activities such as manufacturing arrowheads, making pottery or excavating mineral ores,” he said.
“The fun part is when all the different experts each bring their pieces of evidence and everyone contributes to putting the story together.”
As president of the AAPG’s Middle East Region, Al-Hajri no doubt will apply similar processes and enthusiasm to advance petroleum geoscience in the Middle East.