Mustafa Naser Al-Ali

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Mustafa Naser Al-Ali
Mustafa Al Ali headshot.png
Latest company Saudi Aramco
PhD university TU Delft

Mustafa Al-Ali is being honored for his contributions in the area of seismic data acquisition. Mustafa is a young Saudi geophysicist currently enrolled in the PhD program at TU Delft with an emphasis on nearsurface studies using concepts from CFP technology. He is a member of the Delphi group and works under the guidance of professors Berkhout and Verschuur.

Mustafa joined Saudi Aramco’s Geophysical Data Acquisition Group in 1998 and has provided technical insight and knowledge which assisted in the design of large 3D surveys. His contributions in the design of sparse 3Ds have been particularly important in improving data quality and reducing turnaround time. His contribution in near-surface studies deserves special attention. He used typical vibrator base-plate data and obtained estimates of the P-velocity of the near-surface. These estimates, when integrated with uphole data, improve definition of the near surface and thus mitigate the risk associated with the exploration and drilling of low-relief structures typically encountered in the Middle East. His research with the Delphi group has resulted in innovative breakthroughs and concepts that will allow us to obtain more information on complex near-surface conditions and assist in designing 3D surveys.


Biography Citation for the J. Clarence Karcher Award

Contributed by A. J. (Guus) Berkhout


Mustafa Al-Ali is a young and talented geophysicist who joined Saudi Aramco’s Geophysical Technology Division in September 1992 after graduating from KFUPM with a bachelor’s degree (honors) in geophysics. In 1993 he went on an eight-month training assignment to Houston, followed by an assignment in the Geophysical Data Processing Division. In January 1996 Mustafa joined the Geophysical Data Acquisition Division, where he was involved in crew supervision, field quality control, contracting, and survey acquisition design. In July 2001 Mustafa joined the Eastern Area Exploration Division where he worked as an interpreter until January 2003. As part of Mustafa’s ongoing development program, he completed studies on his own time, leading to a master’s degree in computation geology from KFUPM in May 2002.

Mustafa has made many contributions to seismic data acquisition at Saudi Aramco. One significant contribution is the invention of the composite sparse 3D survey design that alleviated the deficiencies in regular sparse 3D survey designs. The new design led to the acquisition of several tens of thousands of square kilometers of sparse 3D data in Saudi Arabia, while overcoming some of the acquisition challenges characteristic of such areas. Another important contribution was the development of an innovative method to estimate near-surface macro models using readily available data gathered during the acquisition of a land survey that uses the vibrator as a source. In combination with this concept, he has also introduced the application of geostatistical methods in seismic statics estimation. Despite his young age, Mustafa has authored many papers in technical journals and has presented at many international symposia. He is an active member of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

In January 2003, under the sponsorship of the Saudi Aramco SDP program, Mustafa commenced PhD studies at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. His research topic is a systems approach to land data acquisition design, making use of the seismic value chain. He is doing this research as a member of the Delphi team. First results of his excellent thesis work do confirm that on land data with a complex near surface, seismic acquisition and processing need be closely interrelated and imaging should be data-driven. Mustafa’s CFP approach to land seismics introduces a new paradigm in the acquisition-processing cycle that may resolve many of the long lasting problems we face on land. While he is doing his PhD, he has established a major joint project between Saudi Aramco and Delft University aimed at resolving the imaging and the time-todepth challenges in areas with a complex near surface.

Mustafa’s outstanding contributions have previously been recognized by Saudi Aramco on different occasions. He received the Geophysicist of the Year Award in 1998. In 2002 he also received the Saudi Aramco Exploration Award as well as the Saudi Aramco Corporate Innovation Award. The J. Clarence Karcher Award is very well deserved, and I expect many more significant contributions from Mustafa. On behalf of the Delphi team and the Delphi sponsors, I congratulate him and Saudi Aramco upon his selection for this prestigious award.