A strategy for meeting Angola’s maintenance needs TEY_post_Alan-GLYN-CUTHBERT

In 2023, we made a point of engaging with some of our key partners with a view to increasing our capacity to deliver.


A strategy for meeting Angola’s maintenance needs

June 12, 2024

Alan Glyn-Cuthbert, country manager of Petrowork Solution, talks to The Energy Year about the key pillars of the company’s growth strategy and the importance of international partners for its approach to growth. Petrowork Solution is an Angolan services company providing diverse support to the oil and gas sector.

How important are international partners for Petrowork Solution’s approach to growth?
We’ve built a lot of success on having partnerships. The main pillar in our strategy is partnerships. In 2023, we made a point of engaging with some of our key partners with the view of increasing our capacity to deliver. We want to grow as a service company. We have now formalised our relationship with our partner SGB-Cape, and we are participating as a consortium in very significant bids.
On our own, Petrowork has won some very significant contracts, and now with our partners, we see the trust of the clients shifting positively towards us. They can see we have the capacity to support the activities that we’ve always been doing and the ability to react quickly to client needs. This is probably the greatest change that should result in significant growth for the company.

What are the key pillars of the company’s growth strategy?
The internal strategy is to build more confidence in our company. We have relationships with key people and key companies, and we’ve positioned ourselves well in the market. I think we’ve built trust with the work that we’ve done. However, we’ve stayed on a level that we can manage.
We haven’t taken on too much risk; rather, we’ve made a calculated decision to push ourselves out of our comfort zone while knowing that we have support behind us to do what we promise. That’s possibly the single most important strategy that we’ve followed in furthering our growth – although we have made many commercial actions too.
In terms of assets, our workshop in Viana has grown threefold. We’ve taken over the neighbouring space. That’s increased our capacity both to deliver work and to keep a lot more material and stock in-country to react quickly when needed. That’s also one of the small things that adds to clients’ confidence. With respect to technical, HSE and commercial capacities, our yard is very impressive.


In what areas is Petrowork Solution expected to receive more jobs in the coming years?
The largest part of our growth will consist of tank cleaning and NORM [naturally occurring radioactive material] handling. This is the result of a very long and difficult process we underwent to become licensed for this kind of work. That’s the main driver behind our ability to access this work.
Moreover, there is a lot of this work available. Assets are getting older, so they require more maintenance. Therefore, we find ourselves in a good place to meet a market need that is at present quite widespread.
Then, there are several of our lines that have been supporting us all along. ICR composite repair continues to be a very good line for us. That has kept us and keeps us in a very prominent position with our clients and also keeps our revenue up.
We’re also pushing some of our specialist coating applications. They have kicked off nicely, so our yard is always busy. Our PTFE [polytetrafluoroethylene] line, that is, the Xylan coating line, is constantly busy. We’ve made a significant marketing push for this line. Although it does not make up a massive percentage of our revenue, it’s a very high profile service line, bringing us more market exposure.

How do you assess the fundamentals of the market for maintenance services in Angola?
I think the players will change – and they are changing. Some old players are increasing in importance, there are some of us coming up, and others are going down. We’re experiencing a rotation of who is who.
I think the maintenance market is increasingly important with ageing assets. Those of us that have worked to grow with technology go with what’s new and try to be at the forefront of things that are safer and more productive. For us, that’s the way to go.
We think that clients are a bit traditional in Angola. However, with some changes in personnel and different ideas and new technologies, the way people do maintenance will change, and I think companies bringing new technology will lead this change, with us being one of them.

How important is training in Petrowork’s business model?
Training is absolutely critical. We have a huge training programme going on at our base. We’re converting a portion of our base to a training centre. To maintain and improve our local competence, it’s absolutely critical to have in-house training. We will continue to train and lose people – people will come through, and they’ll then get better opportunities.
However, if we don’t keep feeding the resource pool as a company, we won’t have resources. We in the industry may joke about stealing each other’s labour, but it’s not sustainable. You can’t do this forever. We need to inject newer, younger people with different ideas. We need to train our workforce.

What are Petrowork Solution’s key business goals for 2024?
Firstly, we need to consolidate our infrastructure. We’re undergoing a large expansion, and we need to make sure our expansion goes well because of course we need to generate income out of this. We need to consolidate our internal processes administratively, as we have to cope with a much larger structure. We need to make sure that’s working well.
We also need to make sure that we’re working well with our partners, as they are a key part of our business. That means ensuring that they receive value out of our partnership, that their brand increases in value and that they are also doing something through participating in a significant business endeavour. They also have shareholders to answer to.
Then, from Petrowork’s point of view, I think the key for us is to be, if not the largest services company, certainly close to being the largest.

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