When Najla Binmahfoodh first became a Loss Prevention Department (LPD) engineer in the Jiddah area, she knew that her main responsibilities would be focused on ensuring compliance with safety standards and work procedures, and verifying design implementation to protect assets and the lives of employees and contractors.
Binmahfoodh is part of a new generation of talent who are conducting field and site inspections within facilities, including work during construction phases and total shutdown activities.
The core mission of an LPD engineer
In Saudi Aramco, the female workforce includes, among other positions, petroleum engineers, scientists, inventors, and global traders.
Recognizing that the energy sector requires gender balance, the company introduces women to field-related roles in all business lines, and field assignments are tailored as part of their Professional Development Program plans. And like all LPD engineers, Binmahfoodh says safety is at the very core of her work and that nothing can replicate the value of conducting a field visit.
For project support engineers, the safety services provided can vary depending on the assignment and role, including minor or major design review implementation and walkthroughs conducted following the completion of a project.
During her assignment, Binmahfoodh attended progress meetings with a number of proponents, conducting multiple site visits during the construction of the North Jiddah Bulk Plant expansion project. She also conducted a developmental visit to the Yanbu’ Refinery, which was undergoing a total shutdown for turnaround and inspection.
Amazing to witness’ Yanbu’ Refinery
“The visit to the Yanbu’ Refinery was a turning point for me,” Binmahfoodh said. “Every activity in this industry is just fascinating, beginning at rig sites to the refineries, and finally to bulk plants and loading facilities. The entire process of how oil comes into being, and is turned into products that we use every day, is just amazing to witness.”
Mohammed Merdad, the lead Fire Prevention engineer for the Jiddah area LPD, recognized Binmahfoodh’s competency and steady growth during her time with LPD — something that is critical for all young engineers.
Binmahfoodh’s career experiences have led her to encourage other female employees in the engineering field to seek opportunities and embrace challenges head on.
“The time has come for women to pursue more field-based roles and contribute to Saudi Aramco’s value of safety by integrating safety into all aspects of our business,” she says. “The support now provided to female engineers will undoubtedly lead to promising futures in upstream field positions. Female engineers are making their mark on the engineering field, and there is plenty more to come.”
The importance of including new Loss Prevention Department engineers in key activities such as field and technical reviews allows them to showcase their capabilities and skills in challenging field conditions — once equipped with the correct tools, knowledge, and support.