A push for innovation in Abu DhabiDecember 8, 2020
Abdourazak Kone, general manager of Emirates Western Oil Well Drilling & Maintenance Company, talks to The Energy Year about how Abu Dhabi’s upstream projects will translate into opportunities across the value chain and the implications of ADNOC’s new contract scheme. Emirates Western provides oilfield services including cementing, stimulation, coiled tubing and marine services.
How does EWPSCO contribute to the UAE’s oil and gas industry?
Emirates Western has existed since the mid-’80s, so it is one of the oldest oilfield service companies in the UAE. The company is known in the industry as a cementing and an offshore stimulation company as we have always had offshore stimulation vessels and have provided production enhancement services to ADNOC. Nonetheless, our company has developed over the years and we now provide coiled tubing services, downhole tools services, supply of stimulation and drilling mud chemicals. I will say that Emirates Western has been with the UAE through the ups and downs of the oil industry.
How do you see the announced upstream projects materialising as opportunities across the value chain?
ADNOC has a clear vision, a very good strategic focus and a lot of projects in the pipeline that will be materialising in the short term. This allows us to work in an environment that reduces uncertainties during the challenging Covid-19 period.
That said, local contractors and manufacturers need to upgrade equipment as the business environment is very conducive for all of us. All upcoming projects in the upstream sector – such as Jebel Ali, Upper Zakum and the Hail and Ghasha shallow-water fields – require cutting-edge technology and so the local oilfield services market has to keep up.
Now we have to tackle problems related to high temperatures, go into the sour gas environment and engage in extended-reach drilling, and it’s time for local companies to take on all of these contracts on our own. There are a lot of opportunities for local companies to grow thanks to the ICV [In-Country Value] programme that ADNOC put in place.
Moreover, with the new unified commercial practice [under which ADNOC is awarding longer, integrated contracts and devolving subcontract tendering to contractors] coming with the mega-tenders, contracts will no longer be under a three-year scheme, but will last five years.
What are the implications of ADNOC’s new contract scheme?
ADNOC’s new contract scheme will encourage local companies to invest more in their equipment and people as well as encouraging innovation to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to execute future challenging projects. This is what we are committed to as Emirates Western. We are investing in our equipment and training our people so we can push our own boundaries.
I believe this was well thought out by the ADNOC procurement team. This is the kind of demand that local companies are asking for. It will open up doors for local companies to move on in the business, it will allow us to do more innovation, and acquire the expertise future projects require.
Given the importance of the ICV scoring for future tenders, how do you plan to increase your score?
We are committed to the ICV programme as we firmly believe it is necessary to increase the value generated in the UAE. Of course, we have to adjust many business aspects, such as our choice of supplier, and so we are starting to look at local manufacturing companies to procure our required equipment and products locally instead of going abroad.
We are trying to see how we can synergise capabilities with some of our foreign partners and the discussions are ongoing. We will do it to improve our ICV score and most importantly to bring more added-value activity to the UAE.
How has the pandemic affected your operations?
Covid-19 came as a “black swan event.” When companies made their business plan for 2020, they evaluated potential risks but I would argue no one imagined something like this could happen. We are lucky to be in the UAE because the government issued clear guidelines very quickly and took some conservative measures, and given the country’s advanced digital services we were able to do all our administrative tasks without having the need to break physical distancing.
In the oil and gas sector in particular, we were also lucky that ADNOC took the lead very early on and issued clear guidelines to all contractors working with them. We adhered to these guidelines and followed the steps specific to our operations.
One of the main challenges, however, came in managing our human resources. As airports closed worldwide and means of transportation were no longer available, we faced some problems with our crew rotation. At this point, we had to be very creative to solve these problems and make sure our personnel were informed at all times.
Another big challenge for us involved our suppliers. As the pandemic quickly became a worldwide issue, we had to find local suppliers that would allow us to keep our operations up and running. And we finally identified some local suppliers offering good-quality products, which we then validated in our lab. Fortunately, we had a business continuity plan that allowed us to have uninterrupted operations. We thank ADNOC for their co-operation, support provided to us and to all local companies on this journey.
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