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Training the Next Generation of Petroleum Engineers

Saudi Aramco petroleum refinery engineering training video wall

“UPDC is more than a facility…more than a training program. It is Saudi Aramco’s proactive decision to stay ahead of the times” – Amin Nasser, Upstream senior vice president1.

To meet the skyrocketing global demand for oil and gas products in an era of dwindling resources, petroleum companies are increasingly refining their upstream processes to increase extraction efficiency. Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil and liquid natural gas, involved in all stages of hydrocarbon exploration and production (upstream activities), as well as refining and distribution. Producing one out of every eight barrels of the world’s crude oil, Saudi Aramco understands the vital importance of training upstream employees, those involved in exploration and production, to effectively manage this finite resource.

Saudi Aramco’s Upstream Professional Development Center (UPDC), inaugurated in 2011, provides hands-on training for thousands of oil and gas professionals every year. RGB Spectrum’s video processing and display technologies are used throughout the facility to support the UPDC’s primary goal: to deliver immersive, high-tech training in a collaborative learning environment. Programs range from intensive training for new college graduates to continuing education courses for petroleum engineers and geoscientists. Courses are taught by Saudi Aramco subject matter experts who focus on replacing lectures with practical, experiential seminars that replicate the challenges faced by professionals in upstream work environments.

“The UPDC is designed to address unprecedented professional development needs. We have aggressive targets of higher hydrocarbon discovery and recovery factors that require more complex activities and technologies to achieve” observed Abdullatif Al-Ghanim, director of Upstream Continuing Excellence. “The technologies used during routine operations will continue to evolve, with new tools and advancements appearing at a rapid pace. With the advent of enormous amounts of real-time data…, engineers and geoscientists [must be able to take] multidisciplinary collaboration and joint decision processes to a new level.”2

To ensure that oil and gas professionals are able to make such high-stakes operational decisions, Saudi Aramco, in partnership with integration firm Saudi Media Systems, equipped the UPDC facility with the most advanced educational technologies. These include RGB Spectrum’s Linx Matrix Switchers for signal routing and MediaWall Display Processors for video processing. According to Dr. Claude Wells, Managing Director of Saudi Media Systems, “We have used RGB Spectrum’s Linx switchers and MediaWall processors in a number of our installations and have been very impressed with their performance and reliability. The technologies are invisible to the user…everything in this system works together to allow instructors and students to use the equipment effortlessly.”

The Center features 18 classrooms of three basic types: 2D classrooms, interactive 2D classrooms, and 3D classrooms. In addition to these, there is a four-sided, reconfigurable 3D cave that enables detailed analysis of site data. Every classroom in this facility (2D and 3D) uses a Linx Switcher for signal routing, while a large fiber switcher distributes signals throughout the facility. Every 2D classroom uses a MediaWall Processor for video processing and edge-blending of multi-windowed layout configurations on either a 1x2 or 1x3 array of projection screens.


In each classroom, these technologies are used to support HD video streaming, HD video conferencing, and video-on-demand applications. Typical imagery includes material for lectures and presentations, site visualizations and simulations of different environments/activities, as well as analytical programs that graphically present data from actual exploration sites for discussion. Site imagery can also be generated in the central server room and distributed to any classroom in the facility. In addition, the system’s collaborative capabilities allow information from an instructor’s laptop and/or multiple student workstations to be selected for display on the screens.

“To ensure the best educational experience, the system had to meet the client’s stringent requirements, including zero detection of blend-area over a much wider area than normal. RGB Spectrum created custom software to deliver on this requirement, and their products exceeded all other specifications for both capabilities and ease of use” Dr. Wells further observed. “From sales and design assistance to commissioning, support and on-site training of personnel, RGB Spectrum’s response has been extraordinary. We will continue to choose RGB Spectrum both for the extreme reliability of their products and for the superb level of support that they provide.”

1, 2  Aramco's major upstream training facility opens

About Saudi Media Systems

Saudi Media Systems designs and integrates multimedia systems and advanced technology facilities. They provide a full range of design, engineering, and technical support services that extend from project concept, through implementation, training and operational support. Saudi Media Systems provides practical and innovative solutions for all types of applications: control centers, data visualization, integrated security and facilities management, networked media and data centers, video conferencing and eLearning. www.smediasys.com

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