The Sadara and Dow Companies provides for their employees, programs for their spouses to participate in. Just about every month a program or tour is arranged for the purpose of getting the spouses together, to meet, socialize and make new friends. The employees and their wives live in compounds spread out in several towns across the Eastern Province. Most of the compounds are located in the Al Khobar / Dhahran area but as the plant in Jabail City, 88 miles north of Al Khobar gets closer to completion many of the new arrivals and many of the folks living in Al Khobar are moving to the compounds in Jabail. Each compound has its group of ladies who socialize regularly but it is always nice to get together with the folks from the other compounds to visit and make friends. There are many nationalities represent on these compounds. Over all, living in Saudi Arabia is a hardship for these employees and an even greater hardship for the spouse who are stuck on the compounds most of the time. When they do go out they must wear an abaya and are restricted on what they can do and where they can go. So the two companies go out of their way to provide outings for the spouses. You know the saying, “happy wife, happy family life”.
Recently one of the Sadara / Dow organizers pulled in a favor from one of his Saudi Aramco buddies. Aramco was very gracious to arranged for the spouses a visit to the Shaybah Oil Field. We are very lucky to be extended this invitation. It is in a remote part of the country and very difficult to get to. Very few of the Sadara / Dow employees have had the opportunity to visit let alone their spouses.
Shaybah Oil Field is described as a super giant oil field located on the edge of the Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert in the world. The Empty Quarter covers the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula.
Putting it on the map Empty Quarter
The Shaybah Oil Field has estimated reserves of over 14 billion barrels of crude oil and 25 trillion cubic feet of gas. And this is consider an average size oilfield for Saudi Arabia. The crude in this field is Arabian extra light, a very high quality grade of crude. The oil is found at 4900 feet below the ground. Once pumped out of the ground the oil is sent by a pipeline to the town of Abqaiq near the Arabian Gulf 400 miles away to the Saudi Aramco oil processing facility.
Putting it on the map Shaybah Oil Field
The oilfield went online in 1998, since then a town accommodating 1000 men grow out of the sand. The town has administrative offices, an air strip, fire station, recreation areas, maintenance and support workshops including power stations for generation and distribution. The weather is very extreme in this area. Temperatures in the winter drop to 14F degrees at night and in the summer raises to 125F degrees in the daytime. Dust storms are a regular occurrence.
An afternoon and evening trip was arranged for the spouses. About 90+ ladies and myself were bused to the Saudi Aramco terminal at Dammam Airport were we took a private Aramco jet, an hour plane ride, to the Shaybah Oil Field. The schedule was for a visit to one of the plants,(this was cancelled??) then off to the “Uphill Oasis Tent” to see a heritage cultural show, a presentation on the Sahybah story, a short film “Energy for the Millennium”, on the building of the plant, watch the sunset over the sand dunes and eat dinner. We returned to the Dammam airport at 9:pm. Below are of some pictures and more commentary.
I do have to say again, this was a very special opportunity, very few people get to see this facility, only the big shots and royalty, as you will see in the pictures they really rolled out the carpet for us Arabian style.