Against the blue sky, the long, low shape of the tanker was sharp and clear as it eased toward one of four berths a mile offshore from the oil terminal outside Sidon, on the coast of Lebanon. Guided by the precise instructions of a mooring master, his eyes sighted like a marksman's on a huge, painted target on shore, the ship nosed into position, dropped its anchors and began to swing clockwise into its berth. Mooring launches moved in to fasten the lines and on deck, alert crewmen quickly connected the ship's manifold valve to the 16-inch flexible marine hose that curved upward from the bottom of the harbor. As the connections clicked into place, the mooring master sent a final signal ashore. Within minutes, oil from the fields of Saudi Arabia began to pour into the cavernous belly of the great vessel.
The ship was the Esso Trinidad, a 50,000 deadweight-ton tanker flying the quartered, rectangular flag of Panama. The time was 3:43 p.m. The date was February 7, 1964, and when the operating day had ended the Sidon terminal of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company had loaded aboard the Esso Trinidad, and six other tankers that had preceded it into the loading area, 1,881,263 barrels of crude oil, an all-time high in the 14 years of the company's operation. It was a date that was to go into the record books as a highlight, to join the long list of other highlights that have been compiled since the day in the early 1940's when the companies which own the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) looked across the desert toward Europe and decided that the time was at hand to build an overland pipeline to the Mediterranean—a long steel shortcut to waiting western oil markets.
In those days, the early days for Aramco, oil from new wells in Saudi Arabia was emerging at what, compared to today's production, was a mere trickle—less than 20,000 barrels a day. But the proved reserves were tremendous and as the war drew to a close and the exhausted nations of Europe prepared for the great tasks of reconstruction, it was obvious that vast supplies of oil would be needed. At that time, however, to move Saudi Arabian oil to Europe required a nine-day, 3,600-mile voyage by ship from the Arabian Gulf, through the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, up the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. It was long and costly—involving $40,000 in Suez Canal tolls alone. Accordingly, in July, 1945, Aramco's original parent companies, Standard Oil Company of California and The Texas Company (now Texaco Inc.) obtained a Delaware charter for the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company—a name shortened almost immediately to "Tapline"—and prepared to construct a pipeline.
An area more hostile to man and his works than the region in which Tapline was to operate is hard to conceive. In some areas along the right-of-way there was not a single water well, or road of any description, or permanent habitation. At places whole years may pass without a drop of rain. Temperatures recorded along the route range from a freezing 10º F to a high of 121º F "in the shade"—an amusing irony where neither branch nor leaf exists to shelter man against the desert sun.
The course which the pipeline would follow from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon passes across four distinct types of terrain, only a short stretch of which, near the Arabian Gulf, corresponds to the layman's idea of what a desert should look like. That is the dune country, where shifting pinkish-brown sand mountains creep sluggishly across the landscape. Toward the northwest, parallel to the southern edge of Iraq, the dunes quickly give way to pebbled, rolling plains and fractured-limestone flats, with a paper-thin covering of topsoil and fine sand. At the Jordanian border the character of the land changes again. Black boulders of basalt, many man-size, carpet a jagged lava plain, rendering it completely impassable to wheeled vehicles. Near the Syrian border the basaltic plains give way to fertile wheat lands alternating with stony reaches of bare limestone. And on the threshold of Lebanon, the pipeline right-of-way careens up the Anti-Lebanon mountains, plunges down its terraced sides, then up and over the Lebanon mountains to the sea at Sidon. The terrain, in short, was, for engineers, a Herculean challenge, and halfway around the world, at the San Francisco offices of Tapline, the general plan for the pipeline that was to traverse it began to take shape, with the first, crucial decision. This was the deceptively simple matter of the optimum pipe diameter.
"Deceptively simple," explained an engineer veteran of Tapline's first tentative steps into the desert, "but actually the hinge on which the entire future of Tapline would turn. Flow requirements, pumping station equipment, labor costs, initial capitalization, and every other factor in our planning was largely conditioned by the size and specifications of the pipe itself. Once that pivotal decision was made, we would have to live with its economic consequences from then on.
"Say that Aramco had predicted a daily throughput of 300,000 barrels—Tapline's original rated capacity, as it turned out. There would be but two basic variables we could juggle to achieve that flow: pipe diameter and pressure. Since pressure in this case can be roughly equated with the number of pumping stations, we figured that a pipe about 30 inches in diameter and six evenly-spaced pumping stations on the 1,000-mile line would accommodate a 300,000 barrel-per-day throughput efficiently and economically. We could have decreased the diameter of the pipe while increasing the number of pump stations, or vice versa. That is, you could use pipe the size of a soda straw hooked up to the power plant of the Grand Coulee Dam, or you could use pipe the diameter of the Mississippi River and a bicycle pump—at least in theory," he added with a grin.
"The point is, the decision was essentially an economic rather than a technical one. The price of steel fabrication, of labor, of ocean freight, of pumps, of personnel, of a thousand goods and services, had to be balanced so that the pipeline not only would handle the anticipated flow on a rising world market, but do so at a cost low enough to compete with tankers. One bad guess at this stage would have cost us a whole day's throughput—of red ink."
Once it was agreed that about 30 inches was the optimum diameter, decisions and ideas came swiftly after. One suggestion, a brilliant stroke that halved shipping costs and delivery time, led to a modification in the standard practice of using pipe of constant diameter. By using two diameters—30 inch and 31 inch—the pipe could be shipped from the United States together, the smaller pipe nested within the other, at great savings of time, space, and, therefore, money. Having departed from one tradition, engineers went on to depart from another. Since oil pressure within a pipe decreases in direct proportion to its distance from the pump, engineers reasoned, why not profit from it by decreasing the thickness of the pipe wall correspondingly, and lay them in descending order between pump stations? That was done, again with substantial economies in steel.
So, for nearly a year and a half, went the planning, until, at last, the lengths of pipe were nested, one within the other, and, with other supplies crammed inside them, hoisted aboard ships and sent to the Arabian Gulf. There, barred by shallow waters from a close approach to shore, the ships tied up at a great "island" of steel pilings three miles off the coast while the "skyhook," a huge aerial tramway, whisked the pipe ashore to be de-nested, welded into longer lengths and sent thundering into the desert on massive tractor trailers.
There are, basically, only two ways to construct a pipeline—above the ground or beneath it—and each method has its drawbacks. Buried pipeline is more common but requires ditching (54" deep in the case of Tapline) which may mean expensive blasting if the subsurface is solid rock, as is often the case in Saudi Arabia. It requires, besides, a meticulous multi-layered coating of inert materials to protect the pipe from rust and corrosion. The alternative—above-ground construction—dispenses entirely with ditching, is not subject to corrosion and is easily repaired in the event of a leak, but creates a barrier of such proportions that it is not feasible except in the most isolated areas. Tapline engineers decided to use both methods, depending on the terrain, but above-ground construction whenever economic, and so settled down to devise a means of eliminating another standard practice—construction in a lazy zigzag which allows for contraction and expansion.
What they came up with was described by a mechanical engineer—with an eye for analogy—this way: "It's like putting a hungry python in a steel strait jacket. But for its own good of course." In more formal terms, it was a straight-line design with the pipe to be restrained in ring-girders—collars of steel—at 66-foot intervals to prevent all lateral or vertical movement. The pipe would also be anchored in massive piers of concrete and steel, at angle points where the pipe changed direction or climbed a hill. At certain critical locations—gate valves or places where the wall thickness changed—anchors were to be built which could withstand the tremendous longitudinal force—up to 600,000 pounds—which could be exerted by the pipe when its temperature changed substantially.
With the pipe locked into place in this manner, its effort to expand or contract when temperatures changed would be borne by internal stress in the pipe. In order to limit the amount of this stress, it was necessary to control carefully the temperature at which the pipe was "tied-in," or restrained, as it was being constructed. The "tie-in" temperatures were specified for each area based upon the expected operating temperature range.
The problems confronting the men who built the pipeline were not all of a technical nature. Frequently they faced situations that were probably unique. One, recalled today with fond humor, involved the engineers and workmen who were stunned one day when a tribe of Bedouins approached and politely asked to water its camels at a recently-drilled well.
"How many camels do you have?"
The spokesman for the Bedouins waved a hand behind him and there, stretching in a line almost a mile long, were some 3,500 camels. The engineers knew that their supply of water was not enough to water the herd and keep the job going too, but they knew also that their agreement required that water be made available to any person or animal needing it. They closed down the job and patiently waited until each thirsty camel had drunk its fill.
Because of the magnilude of the pipeline project, Tapline had hired three major construction firms to build the line and its auxiliary facilities, one to work from Sidon, the other to work from Saudi Arabia, and the third to build auxiliary facilities. Between January 16, 1948, when the first main line weld was made, and September 25, 1950, when the last weld joined the two sections of the 1,068-mile line together—near the border of Jordan and Saudi Arabia—an army of 1,550 Americans and 14,560 men of other nationalities, most of them Arabs, labored 210,000 man-months to transform blueprints into a functioning reality. Along the way, aside from the pipeline and the pumping facilities which are the backbone of the enterprise, a host of subsidiary structures including five complete cities in microcosm had to be built. All the pipeline lacked was crude oil, the production of which at Aramco fields had by then, true to predictions, shot up from the pre-1944 figure of 20,000 barrels per day to 600,000. On November 10, 1950, the first oil from Tapline began to fill the storage tanks at the Sidon terminal.
Today, more than a billion and a half barrels of oil later, the essentials of the Tapline operation are very much as they were then. Improvements—substantial improvements—have been made, but the operation basically remains the same. And that begins when Saudi Arabian crude oil, roused from its slumber of uncounted millions of years, rises to the surface and moves on to Tapline's easternmost pump station at Qaisumah, Saudi Arabia, where a battery of six 1,700-horsepower pumping units adds to the incoming oil a forward thrust of up to 1,040 pounds per square inch and sends it on its way.
The crude oil thus set in motion will proceed with but few pauses until it reaches refineries in up to 16 countries throughout the world. The speed at which it passes through the pipeline, depending on flow requirements, ranges from about 3-miles per hour—the pace of a man on his way to the dentist—to 4- mph—his speed on the way back. Were it not for the one factor which limits the efficiency of all machines, the oil would flow on and on forever upon a single application of pressure. The inhibiting factor is, of course, friction, which, by the time the crude reaches the next station, reduces pressure to near its original level, which is precisely the reason the next station is located where it is. Once again the pressure is boosted to above 1,000 pounds per square inch, and again the pressure gradient falls steadily until the next pump station is reached 170-odd miles downstream, and so by successive impulses does the crude oil move toward its land terminal in Sidon.
The pressure, temperature and flow inter-relationships are so crucial to economical operation that many Tapline engineers spend their working days thinking of little else. Heat, for example, building up inside the pipeline—to a temperature considerably higher than the temperature outside—can reduce the flow by as much as 12,000 barrels a day. Stresses caused by cold—such as the fluke cold of last January—can tax the stress limits of the pipe so much that pressures, and, consequently, flow must be sharply reduced. Some of these problems cannot be solved. Others, through imagination and ingenuity, can, and in perfecting a method to grapple with sudden pumping station stoppages, for example, engineers demonstrated how.
"Analogies can be misleading," warned our analogizing mechanical engineer, "but providing you don't stretch them too far, you can see what happens when a pumping station suddenly shuts down, by visualizing a line of people hurriedly churning through a turnstile at a major football game, ten seconds after kickoff. Then the turnstile jams. For a moment the line of people continues to press forward and then, compressed to its limits, all at once surges back. In a pipeline, this surge wave, running counter to the direction of flow, is produced when a pump station stops functioning without warning. The high-pressure surge wave ripples back upstream at the rate of one kilometer per second. So if you remember that the nearer the upstream pump the higher the pressures within the pipe, it's easy to see that at some critical point the oil pressure plus the surge wave may combine to rupture the pipe and inundate the desert for a country mile in all directions.
"The best way to handle a high-pressure wave is to intercept it with a low-pressure wave, and this is precisely what Tapline engineers have done. When an emergency shuts down a pump station, its Very High Frequency radio automatically sends a signal to the next station upstream ordering an immediate drop in pressure there. This produces a low-pressure wave which travels downstream, also at a kilometer a second. When the two waves meet about midway between the two stations, they cancel each other out, smooth as silk." This original concept enabled Tapline to increase its throughput by more than 10 per cent.
If the pump station is the beating heart of Tapline, then the dispatcher's office in downtown Beirut is its brain. By VHF radio it is in instantaneous communication with every pump station and with the terminal—and through the terminal with approaching ships—and compiles detailed information on crude oil requirements. From the sum of such radio exchanges the dispatcher calculates daily the flow through the pipeline necessary to meet anticipated needs, and sends a cable to Aramco offices at Dhahran and Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia ordering an amount of crude oil to achieve that flow. Pressures in the pipeline and shutdowns for maintenance are likewise coordinated by the dispatcher, who has final responsibility for all the oil in the line from the moment it is gauged at Qaisumah until it flows into the tanker's hold without his ever setting eyes on a single drop of it.
The process of accommodating a tanker captain's signal to "Fill 'er up!" differs from that of the Sunday driver mainly in degree. Yet the amounts of combustible crude to be transferred are so great—the average tanker of today carries up to 27,000,000 gallons—that extraordinary attention to detail must be observed for the safety of the ship and the terminal itself. The tanker is still several miles at sea, and already in touch with Sidon and Beirut by radio telephone, when a Tapline mooring master, himself a veteran tanker skipper as well as an expert on local waters, boards the ship to pilot it to loading berths where, within minutes of mooring, oil begins to pour into the hold of the ship. Flowing downward by gravity from Tapline's 3,600,000-barrel tank farm, which serves as the reservoir for the pipeline's unceasing throughput, the crude oil passes through a maze of control valves into submarine pipes. Extending more than one mile from the shoreline, the four parallel sections of submerged steel pipe terminate just below the respective ship berths in some 80 feet of water. Connected to their terminals are flexible heavy-duty rubber hoses, whose other ends are lifted from the sea bed to be connected to the ship. To these are attached additional lengths of hose which reach to the ship's manifold. Once the connection is made the mooring master signals shore control to open the main valve and begin loading.
Although the Sidon terminal sprawls along a wide stretch of coastline from the tank farm, 350 feet above sea level, to the Mediterranean, its 35 miles of pipe and 20 huge tanks are controlled by a shift of only six men. Automation, intensive training and rotation of jobs which permits great work-force flexibility during emergencies, and instant communication by radio between Sidon and the other nerve centers of Tapline, have combined to make the Sidon terminal operation a model of efficiency.
Tapline is perhaps most easily distinguished from other pipeline operations by its involvement in matters having no direct connection with the oil transportation business at all. It built and maintains one of the major roads in Saudi Arabia, over which passes a large percentage of that nation's surface trade with Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. It assists municipal development of the towns of the northern frontiers of Saudi Arabia, providing planning and expert counseling in the organization of such locally-unfamiliar services as a city-wide electric supply system financed by public subscription. It has drilled water wells which provide uncounted thousands of nomadic Arabs with an assured supply of water for their flocks. Most noteworthy of all is the Tapline medical service, which, next to the actual transportation of crude oil, involves more company personnel and expenditure than any other phase of Tapline operations.
This service, based on an agreement between Tapline and Saudi Arabia, provides for emergency care of travelers, plus considerable medical help to those in the immediate vicinity of pumping stations. A modest service at the beginning, it has, today, grown to proportions far in excess of original plans. "At first," the Arab medical director of one of Tapline's hospitals explained, "the burden was negligible primarily because of a reluctance to try our brand of medicine. That this has changed can be seen in figures for 1963: at the four Tapline hospitals—at Turaif, Badanah, Rafha and Qaisumah—there was a total of 15 doctors, 48 nurses and 68 beds. During those 12 months there were 300,940 clinic calls, of which 249,445 were non- company, and 10,946 hospital days."
Like the hospitals, the road along the pipeline was built in response to contractual obligations to the Saudi Arabian Government, but also because of engineering requirements. Getting men and materials to the construction site made an all-weather road imperative from the beginning and, from the standpoint of the type of traffic it bore, it was certainly unique. In addition to bulldozers, cranes, earth-movers and a host of other equipment, the road was constantly churned to dust by 150, 50-ton trucks hauling pipe, 120, 10-ton trucks, 500 trailers, 80 refrigerator trucks for fresh food, 12 lunch-serving trailers, and 40, 60-passenger buses, plus a handful of automobiles. The unpaved road surface was no trouble to the huge machines, but their tires were constantly being punctured by the welding-rod ends which littered the pipeline right-of-way until electro-magnets were installed on trucks which patrol the road.
Tapline currently spends more than $500,000 a year to maintain the road which, besides company vehicles, now carries a veritable caravan of commercial traffic. Turaif, which did not even exist in 1945, is now the third largest port of entry in Saudi Arabia. Until recently, the marl-surfaced road was periodically reconditioned by scraping, spraying with water, and rolling, the resulting surface baking under the hot sun almost to brick hardness. A more permanent road, conforming to U.S. two-lane specifications, was begun in 1963 using the old road as a base. Starting at Qaisumah, the asphalted road is now proceeding westward at the rate of one kilometer a day, and is expected to reach Turaif in late 1967.
Nothing—not even the vital road link with the Mediterranean—has so transformed life in the northern provinces of Saudi Arabia as the water wells drilled by Tapline. Until the pipeline came, the area for more than 200 miles on either side of the present right-of-way was one broad belt of barren desert, with spots of green at great intervals to which hurried the tribesmen on their annual north-south migrations in search of pastures for their camel herds. A total of 43 water wells were drilled, 24 in close proximity to the projected pump stations, the others in more remote areas. Collectively, these wells produce more than 1,000,000,000 gallons of water each year for the pump stations and towns along the line and for an unknown number of travelers, nomads, and herds.
The easy availability of water and the presence of jobs with Tapline has led to a social revolution in northern Saudi Arabia. In less than a generation Saudi Arabs, whose ancestors for thousands of years were nomads, have settled more or less permanently in the vicinity of Tapline pump stations, to the extent that towns of more than 5,000 inhabitants, with schools, mosques, shops and government services, have been established. Depending about equally on Tapline, commerce generated by the road, the semi-floating pastoral population, and government patronage, these towns are here to stay, and proud of a rampant westernization tempered by a concern to preserve traditional values. Tapline has encouraged local enterprise by purchasing from independent merchants whenever possible and by sponsoring the construction of modern housing by its local employes under the company's Saudi Home Ownership Plan. Through the aid of the plan, 31 employe houses were built in 1963 and the total now is more than 140.
In turn, Tapline's impact has been reciprocated with interest by those employes who have seized opportunities for advancement to positions of responsibility. Hamoud Nazzal, a personable Saudi in his early thirties, dressed in starched khakis, takes pleasure in showing visitors around the immaculate turbine plant in Turaif, of which he is senior shift foreman. Speaking at first in technical language, he easily switches to fluent colloquial English when he sees he is not getting his message across:
"That roar you hear is practically identical to the noise of a commercial jet," Hamoud matter-of-factly explains in the relative quiet of the control room, "and up close you must wear a set of these foam rubber and plastic 'Mickey Mouse' headsets if you don't want to go deaf. Only Turaif has turbines, by the way; the other stations of Badanah, Rafha and Qaisumah work on diesel power. The models you see through the glass supply 5,000 horsepower. Inside temperatures reach 900°F, the turbines turn at 6,000 revolutions per minute, and the air compressors hit 7,000 rpm. When they become encrusted with carbon scale we clean them by throwing quantities of plain uncooked rice into the air intake. Officially, the turbine is called a 'General Electric Simple-Cycle Two-Shaft Gas Turbine,' the 'simple-cycle' referring to..."
Listening to him speak, one gains the impression that he has had a technical education and tinkered with engines all his life. In fact, as a Lebanese engineer observed, "Hamoud Nazzal and the rest of the 75 per cent of Tapline employes who are Saudi Arabs were, almost without exception, nomads less than 20 years ago. Their contact with the world outside was zero, and their prospects for a different kind of life very faint indeed. But once they joined Tapline, they proved extremely quick to learn and receptive to new ideas. Today, two of the three shifts at all our pump stations are manned exclusively by Arabs, and many of Tapline's most demanding jobs are filled by Arabs. At Sidon for example, 'Abdallah Assaly, Najib Wehbeh, Fouad Hneineh and Mahmoud Salman comprise the vital crew of divers charged with maintaining the submarine lines. In Beirut the six-man dispatcher's staff, headed by Emile Ayash, is all Arab."
"T'he American and other foreign employes, like the Saudis, have had to adapt to new conditions. They live in small, self-contained communities at each station. Amusements are of the home-grown variety, including golf courses consisting mainly of continuous sand traps; even the "greens" are made of rolled sand, held in place by generous applications of discarded lubricating oil, while the balls are often painted red for better visibility.
Even with a private airline—two DC-3's—to facilitate supply, keeping Tapline going from day to day is a tremendous exercise in logistics. The 1,070 employes of the pipeline company perform 410 different jobs, and each of them requires a host of tools and equipment. In 1963 Tapline purchased exactly 27,397 different items, and the total of items kept in stock runs to nearly 40,000. Purchases range from toothpicks to microwave transmitter towers. Tires for Tapline vehicles in Saudi Arabia alone cost some $93,000 a year. The flexible high-pressure hoses, of which there are 27 lengths each 25 feet long in each of Sidon's four loading berths, cost from $2,000 to $4,000 each, and must for safety's sake be discarded at the first sign of ruptured reinforcing wires or even slight scratches in the outer rubber carcass. Huge inventories (currently amounting to about $4,000,000) of seldom-used equipment must be maintained because sometimes up to 12 months may elapse before orders can be filled.
The best planning in the world cannot forecast the occasional mishaps that sting the company's trouble-shooters into action like the bite of a sand fly. Foremost among these daring the early days, when the pipeline was a novelty, was the rifle bullet fired at the above-ground pipe, either out of exuberance, the hope that the pipe contained water, or a detached curiosity to discover how far the oil would spurt into the desert. The answer was, pretty far, and a repair crew would be off to the scene on the double. Leaks however rarely reach major proportions, but if they do, pressure on that section of the line can be dropped to zero, and valves on each side of the break can be closed to prevent further loss by gravity-drain of crude through the rupture. Only one such major break has occurred in Tapline's history, a 14,000-barrel spill at kilometer 390 in February,1957. The traffic on the road, moreover, has increased to such a degree that no leaks can go undetected for more than a few hours. In recent years, leaks have overwhelmingly been in the corrosion-pinhole category.
In the years that have been passed since the completion of Tapline, the role of Tapline in the world economic picture has steadily increased in importance. The United States is criss-crossed with an evergrowing network of lines carrying crude oil and its products, natural gas and coal. In North Africa, where major oil discoveries have been made recently, pipelines are carrying large quantities of crude from the desert producing fields to Mediterranean terminals. In Europe pipelines now carry oil from coastal refineries into the interior—such as the line from the French Mediterranean coast to Strasbourg, France, and Karlsruhe, West Germany. Yet there is, between pipelines and tankers, whose size, economy and efficiency have grown considerably each year, a constant struggle. To keep pace, pipelines must operate at maximum capacity. And Tapline has kept pace, moving, each year, a little closer to the maximum.
Some of the additional capacity has resulted from a continuing research program which has raised permissible pipe pressures, while maintaining a constant safety factor. One important step, for example, was the addition of four giant Auxiliary Pumping Units—huge, remote-controlled units, sandwiched midway between the original pump stations in Saudi Arabia—which have doubled the hydraulic pressure and boosted potential capacity from 360,000 barrels per day to nearly 480,000. Another was the improvement of loading methods at the terminal so that tankers can take their oil aboard and leave in record time.
It is only by such imaginative solutions and by operating efficiency that Tapline can continue to compete with automated supertankers, carrying ever-larger cargoes with ever-smaller crews, for the other basic factor in the equation—the diameter of the pipeline—is immutable. Yet, whatever its short-range prospects, Tapline's long-term outlook couldn't be better. The direct correlation between commercial energy consumption and national prosperity has not gone undetected by the underdeveloped countries of the world: the United States, for example, consumes three times as much energy per capita as Europe, 20 times as much as Asia, 26 times as much as Africa, and the emerging nations are hurrying to redress the balance. So rapidly is the use of fossil fuels expanding that, according to sober estimate, between now and the end of this century the world will consume three times as much energy as has been consumed in all previous history. And Tapline, which in its brief 14 years of operations has already loaded 10,160 tankers with 1,550,000,000 barrels of crude oil, seems destined to do it all over again—many times.
Daniel da Cruz, an American living in Beirut, is a free lance writer and author. He is a former language instructor at the American University of Beirut and a former Press Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Mr. da Cruz speaks English, French, Spanish and Arabic.