Texas A&M University at Qatar launches the ORYX GTL – Gas-to-Liquid Excellence Program

October 26, 2015
| By: Lesley Kriewald

Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) in collaboration with founding supporter ORYX GTL has launched the ORYX GTL – Gas-to-Liquid Excellence Program to prepare the highly skilled engineers and technical staff needed to lead and operate Qatar’s world-class industrial facilities.

Globally, this is the first specialized university-industry program in gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology and is supported by the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s (TEES) Gas and Fuels Research Center, both in Qatar and the United States. This is also the first TAMUQ initiative to address all three pillars of the academic institution in one program, combining elements of teaching, research and community outreach. ORYX GTL will fund the program for five years beginning in 2015, with the option to continue its support beyond 2020.

“ORYX GTL has supported several initiatives at Texas A&M University at Qatar in its efforts to support the mission of preparing highly skilled engineers and technical staff to lead and operate Qatar’s world-class industrial facilities,” Abdulhadi Barqan, chief administration officer at ORYX GTL said. “And we are very proud to become the founding supporter of a Gas-to-Liquid Excellence Program at Texas A&M University at Qatar, which shall be known as the ORYX GTL Excellence Program.

“Valuing people is a core business principle of ORYX GTL. It is a principle which governs our actions both internally and externally whilst interacting with the wider community. We believe empowering people to make the most of their abilities enables them to take ownership of their individual destiny. Education is a central theme of Qatar’s National Vision 2030, to which the company is wholeheartedly committed.”

The new program will educate the public in Qatar — starting from school students to college students, to working engineers and technical staff — about the role of GTL in Qatar’s economy and in the future of global energy for the production of ultra-clean fuels and value-added chemicals. It will also support ORYX GTL outreach activities and public programs besides supporting the recruitment of highly qualified Qatari and other students to join the company.

The program has been developed by TAMUQ in consultation with ORYX GTL and has been signed by Dr. Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO of the branch campus; Dr. Karan Watson, provost and executive vice president at Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station, Texas; and Abdulrahman M. Al-Suwaidi, CEO of ORYX GTL. 

“We are proud to partner with ORYX GTL to pursue human development that will provide valuable expertise for Qatar’s growth and prosperity, and contribute to Qatar’s goal of being a knowledge-based economy,” said Weichold. “We are grateful to our partner, Oryx GTL, and for the vision Oryx GTL’s leadership has shown in supporting Qatar’s industry and its workforce, the country’s future and achieving the goals set forth in Qatar National Vision 2030."

Dr. Nimir Elbashir will chair and coordinate the ORYX GTL – Gas-to-Liquid Excellence Program. Elbashir is associate professor of chemical engineering and petroleum engineering, and director of the TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center. His research group of 25 researchers (including postdoctoral researchers, research associates, Ph.D. and master’s students, and undergraduate students) has a research fund that has exceeded $12 million in the past six years. Elbashir's team handles many projects of critical interest to Qatar's natural gas-processing technologies, and his team collaborates with both national and international energy corporations. The Fuel Characterization Lab and the Applied Catalysis Lab of Texas A&M Qatar will support this program. Both labs are equipped with multimillion-dollar equipment run by highly skilled researchers and technical staff.

“I have witnessed many major accomplishments in the establishment of strong relations between academia and industry, but this step is unique in the form of its academic, research, service and community outreach programs,” said Elbashir. “ORYX GTL has been a strong supporter of our branch campus. This collaboration goes further to partner with us to build knowledge in a field of critical interest to Qatar’s economy and the future of global energy.”

Objectives of the ORYX GTL are to advance Qatar’s leading role in the gas-to-liquid (GTL) field, and build teaching, training and research excellence in natural gas processing for value-added chemicals and fuels; enhance collaboration between ORYX GTL and TAMUQ in terms of service, research, training and recruitment programs; facilitate the training of highly skilled engineers and technical staff to lead the GTL field within Qatar; provide professional services and training courses within Qatar in areas relevant to GTL; develop courses and programs for training highly skilled engineers, technicians and other staff in the area of GTL; as well as synthetic fuels characterization and processing and support Qatar National Vision 2030 in building human and research capital in the clean energy field.

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