Thanks to the elimination of metallic corrosion, their lightweight properties, durability, and cost efficiency, nonmetallic materials could play a major role in the oil and gas industry. But, as part of Aramco’s journey to be a major player in this expanding industry, we have identified four other sectors, which could benefit from accelerated growth; automotive; recycling; building and construction; and packaging. We are working within each to grow development and deployment opportunities.
Aramco’s growth opportunities across five key industries
Oil and Gas
Nonmetallic applications in the oil and gas sector include onshore and offshore piping, tanks, vessels, cooling towers, valves, pumps, as well as secondary offshore structures. We are increasing the deployment of nonmetallic materials across our operations, including 2,400 km in onshore applications, and use in some 80 conventional gas wells. Nonmetallics can expand life-cycle cost, reduce the impact of corrosion, and reduce our carbon footprint.
The automotive industry is already a large consumer of nonmetallic products. For example, carbon fiber reinforced plastics are lighter than steel, which means less fuel consumption, better vehicle performance, and lower emissions. We are developing and promoting carbon fiber and polymer-based technologies, and we are exploring how to reduce the manufacturing costs of carbon fiber for mass production.
Building and construction sector
The building and construction sector has huge growth opportunities for nonmetallic materials, such as composite rebars, polymer concrete, structural components, flooring, building accessories, and composites claddings. In 2018 we used fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) rebar in a 21-kilometer long storm water drainage channel in the Jazan Economic City project, considered to be the world’s largest project utilizing FRP.
There are opportunities for nonmetallic solutions related to polymer degradability and recyclability associated with the packaging industry, such as plastic pallets and containers. As an initial step, we are planning to replace our future demand of wood pallets with plastic pallets. We are also exploring deployment of other nonmetallic applications in the packaging industry, and within our joint ventures and local suppliers.
The use of polymeric materials to replace glass in solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is a potential expansion of nonmetallics, and we have initiated R&D to develop polymer and hybrid polymer materials. We have aligned with a solar PV panel manufacturer to adopt and commercialize future solutions, and are also working with the National Renewable Energy Program to localize PV panels, and promote the use of polymer-based PV panels in Saudi mega-projects.
Key milestones on Aramco’s nonmetallic journey