A Travellerspoint blog

Saudi Arabia

April 2016: Spain to Stavanger to Salt Lake to Saudi Arabia

With stops in Ireland, Belgium and Amsterdam!

OK, I know when people read these blogs you are probably thinking "Wow, that must be a lot of fun!" Sometimes I could argue and point out the various travails and lack of time between meetings, etc. But not this time. This month was great.



We were just back from my trip to KL for a few days when it was time to hit the road again. First stop Madrid. While there are a few SPE members there this trip was mainly about our sister societies of SEG and AAPG where I was speaking in a plenary session in Barcelona.

In Madrid we saw a Wagner opera at their amazing opera house, toured the Prada and Thyssen museums, saw the Templo de Debod (a fantastic story of an ancient Egyptian temple that would have been destroyed with the construction of the Aswan dam but then relocated to the center of Madrid!). We managed a 14 course meal at a Michelin 2* restaurant and went to the LDS temple. It was cold enough that we had theChurros con Chocolate (basically churros you could dip in a super thick hot chocolate). Yum.



Madrid is far more laid back than Barcelona. The one tourist thing you MUST do in Barcelona is to tour the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. I have been to many churches, temples, mosques, etc in my life but nothing was like this place. Under construction for many decades, it is still incomplete. but they continue to work on it. Plan on 3-4 hours. Wow!

The rest of the town is great. Huge old section of the city promises to get you lost as you explore it, the waterfront, the hills. My wife explored it much better than I did because I spent my time at the conference. We did get to eat the paella.


After Spain we had an all too short trip to Dublin, Ireland.


I expected to like Dublin but I had no idea how much I would love it. I met with many of the section members, leaders and students and was a keynote speaker at a large section meeting combined with another group. We were given a tour of the University College Dublin including the book of Kells and the Long Room. I made a presentation at the University of Dublin. Jan and I toured the city and its many churches and sights. We ate the great food and took a quick trip to the countryside. I cannot wait to go back.

The trip was short because we needed to get to Stavanger, Norway for the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, Security and Social Responsibility where I participated in student, YP and Plenary events. We did have to get there for the weekend (instead of touring Dublin) since my granson was getting baptized. We did some touring with that family of four super fun boys. One spot we toured was to a WWII era embankment where the Germans built fortified areas for their sea-facing cannons. The boys had a blast climbing all over everything.
The SPE section President is Donal Meehan. Of course my first name is Donald. So here we are!


We had a short trip in Dublin because we had to get to Stavanger, Norway. For SPE I was speaking and participating in many ways (plenary speaker, students, YPs, etc.) in the SPE "Getting to Zero" conference on Health, Safety, Environment and Social Responsibility. I also was going to see our four grandsons including the one who was getting baptized. We toured the Norway sights and our little goofballs climbed all over the countryside. We tasted the local food and my daughter and my gf did a little shopping.


Then off to Amsterdam.


Well, we had some meetings fall apart in the middle of the trip so we decided to kill a few days in Belgium where we could see a few operas. Can't fly home in the middle of the trip! Because of security issues the Brussels airport was still closed so we went to . We caught two operas, toured these wonderful cities and tried the best of the local cuisine.

And now Liege pics


Driving back we went right by the Atomium.

Den Haag and Amsterdam

Most of the Den Haag appointments are rescheduled but we have friends at Delft University. We met at the Mauritshuis museum and the amazing MC Escher museum.
There is also an LDS temple in Den Haag

The tulips were amazing as well.

In Amsterdam after the meetings we caught another opera.


Back in Houston it was flooding. Seriously flooding with water half way up our lawn. We were oblivious until we had to go WAY around to get home. My presentation to the Permian Basin study group on the other side of town took hours to get to as I headed northeast to get to a location well southwest of my home. Attendance was good however.


My youngest son was graduating from college. We saw friends in SLC where I had recently addressed the University of Utah, BYU and SPE sections. I had to race away from graduation to catch a flight to Denver and thence to Frankfurt and Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia

The Saudi section has done an admirable job in building up their annual technical symposium and it now is one of the premier SPE events worldwide. I spoke at the women's section of Energy4me and toured Saudi Aramco. I was a keynote speaker in the opening session and I have to say the hospitality they extended to me was absolutely amazing. I had a chance to meet with various senior executives and participate(!) in their cultural events. I am looking forward to returning.


As a reward for going through all these pics, here are two videos from the SPE ATSE cultural event. The young girls dancing and singing is adorable. I am featured as the "Saudi groom" in the next video. I hope you enjoy them.

When I returned to Houston we caught two more operas in Houston!

Other Blogs

You can of course read about my barbecue at This site
My Baker Hughes reservoir blog is here.
My (old) blog detailing my 18 months in Hong Kong is here,

Travel this trip (basically includes airport to airport) 31,528 miles. SPE travel to date 336,997 miles.

Countries to date (my counting rule is basically that I spent the night there with some sort of SPE content...not just went through the airport like New Zealand or Panama): 36
Czech Republic
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom (Scotland, England)

Operas this month = 6 Operas to date = 48

Posted by fracmeister 17:00 Archived in Saudi Arabia Comments (0)

April in America (and Saudia Arabia)

Penn State, Saudi Arabia, CSM, New York and more!

View Crazy April 2015 & Penn State and SPE HQ on fracmeister's travel map.

Only one overseas trip for SPE business this month, several in the US and a little vacation meant I was still traveling most of the month. I was glad to be home for Easter following last month's craziness. BONUS: Some pictures from a couple of my hobbies at the end.

OK, this isn't really SPE President travels but I did cash in some of those airline and hotel miles to make it happen! My gf and I took a week of vacation and went to New York for the first full week of April. We saw operas every night including Don Carlo, Lucia de Lamermoor, Ernani and Aida. Placido Domingo sung in Ernani and directed Aida. We saw Helen Mirren on Broadway in The Audience. We were tourists. We tried our first Michelin three-star restaurant Jean Georges and visited the Frick and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Tenement museum on the Lower East Side (one of my perennial favorites) and road the tram to Roosevelt Island. We saw my daughter from Connecticut in the Berkshires over the long weekend and had a great time. OK, this was vacation but I decided to add some pictures at the very end of this post. Some people have asked me why I would need a vacation since it seems my whole life is a vacation. Those people have not spent as much time on the road as I have.

Golden, CO
The Colorado School of Mines in Golden is one of my favorite schools to visit because of their beautiful location and the super enthusiastic students. Naturally we had to have a #SPELFIE with the Mines SPE Chapter leadership. I also got to visit with Hassim Abbas, Hossein Kazemi, Erdal Ozkan and Ramona Graves---faculty members I count as dear friends as well as meet many new faculty members.

Here are some of the Denver SPE Section leaders. No, they aren't ALL women in their Section leadership but you can see that the women were the ones who showed up early for the reception with the Chapter leaders.

The monthly Denver SPE section met in Golden this month so we had a very large crowd. There were a lot of my colleagues from around the world there. I met with several local operators.

The CSM campus has expanded significantly and when I arrived the flowers were in bloom and it felt like Spring. Of course it was snowing when I left!

Saudi Arabia I participated in the excellent Saudi Arabia Annual Technical Symposium and Exhibition in Al-Khobar and spoke to students at KFUPM. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a vitally important oil producer and the national oil company Saudi Aramco is committed to advancing technology.

We met with Saudi Aramco management and toured their state-of-the-art facilities. This was particularly interesting as they have massive computational facilities, great training facilities and a command center for tracking and managing crude oil loadings on various ships as well as natural gas and other products. large_IMG_4233.jpg

Local SPE leaders hosted us for lunch. They are very active and have a wide variety of activities going on.
I presented on a panel discussion and we had a very interesting "cultural night" where naturally I got talked into participating (pictures at the end). The attendance at KFUPM was impressive so here is my SPElfie.

The flight home wasn't as fun as you might guess given the tornado warnings.

Penn State
I serve on the advisory board at PSU and love going to the occasional football game. A couple of the professors there are very good friends and I had the opportunity to speak to another large group of students.


SPE HQ, Richardson
On the way back (more or less) from Penn State I went to the SPE headquarters to approve a large batch of recommendations for committee members. Finally it feels like my responsibilities for SPE are more than going to meetings, giving speeches and handing out awards!

One more opera back in Houston (Die Walkur) made five for the month!

Other Blogs

You can of course read about my barbecue at This site
My Baker Hughes reservoir blog is here.
My (old) blog detailing my 18 months in Hong Kong is here,

Travel this trip (basically includes airport to airport) 25,318 SPE travel to date 140,635 miles.

Countries to date (my counting rule is basically that I spent the night there with some sort of SPE content...not just went through the airport like New Zealand or Panama): 17
Czech Republic
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom (Scotland, England)

Operas this month = 5 Operas to date = 14

NYC and Berkshires Pictures

First, we had a really great meal at a Michelin three-star restaurant, Jean Georges.

We spent a long time in the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It was our first time there and I can highly recommend it.

We spent a lot of time at museums. The amazing Frick museum and massive Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in Manhattan near Central Park and the Norma Rockwell museum in the Berkshires.


More random photographs including a fun day at the Hancock Shaker Village where we took the "Baby Animal" tour. Along with a lot of other grownups taking their very small children. Oh well. We also visited Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock (where my college roommate taught in 1979) and toured a LOT of places.


Saudi Arabia

We had a great time at the cultural event and 2015 SPE President Helge Haldorsen became the "groom" for a Saudi wedding dance. Videos exist of me dancing with swords, sticks, etc but you will have to look pretty hard to find them.

My hobbies

I have multiple hobbies. I collect custom knives. I enjoy long range target shooting. I raise bees and I have a small tomato and pepper garden.
The jalapenos are my best crop.

I have a couple top bar hives.

Posted by fracmeister 09:20 Archived in Saudi Arabia Comments (0)

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