Ahead of the gameJuly 15, 2020
Zaher Ibrahim, Baker Hughes’ vice-president for Saudi Arabia, the North Gulf and the East Mediterranean, talks to The Energy Year about the importance of having a robust crisis management system and the company’s success in increasing local content. Baker Hughes is a provider of energy technology services.
How did business strategies change at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis?
Throughout the crisis, we have focused on two clear priorities. The first one is the safety of our employees. We put measures in place to ensure the safety of our staff and our workplace. We implemented guidelines regarding remote work policies, social distancing and ensuring the use of the right PPE in the workplace.
Our second priority is business continuity. Our operations in Saudi Arabia haven’t stopped throughout the pandemic; in fact, our activity in-country has increased. We are working day and night to ensure continued operations, maintain the ecosystem and navigate through challenges as they come up.
After three months, I can confidently say that our team implemented a very robust crisis management system that allowed us to learn and excel. I give thanks to the government, customers and employees as they worked hard to support and guide us with proper measures to take.
Will Saudi Arabia’s upstream sector face a slowdown due to the current crisis?
We believe there is enough work and potential in Saudi Arabia to keep the momentum going. We expect years of definite growth due to commitments, investments and available resources. These elements support a solid platform for execution and operation. The leadership at Baker Hughes have always emphasised investment in Saudi Arabia to ensure we continue to grow and support the needs of customers and partners in-country.
How important have recent investments been in rising to meet current challenges, such as the recent opening of the company’s chemicals manufacturing facility?
In recent years, we have focused on localisation in Saudi Arabia. We now have more than 10 facilities in-country and more than 3,000 employees with a 70% Saudisation rate. Our company is not a newcomer to localisation. The last months have made it clear how important it is to make the right types of investments and be ahead of the game.
The chemicals facility is very strategic, and more so with recent events. It is important to have the right in-country ecosystem. The same applies to our non-metallic joint venture with Saudi Aramco. Both investments are in line with Vision 2030, with an aim of getting more value out of the hydrocarbons value chain. Our JV with Saudi Aramco is the first of its kind and explores opportunities in how we can use non-metallic products in industries beyond oil and gas.
Additionally, other investments are paying off, such as our involvement with the King Salman Energy Park and our push to make Saudi Arabia the regional hub for our oilfield services portfolio of solutions focused on drilling and wireline services.
Furthermore, our in-kingdom pressure control facility supports our operations and customers in Kuwait, Iraq and the UAE; our drill bits facility is manufacturing 100% made in Saudi Arabia drill bits that are being exported to 40-plus countries; and our Dhahran Technology Center is helping to drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution in-country. These are all indications that our localisation initiatives have been very strategic to the country.
How was Baker Hughes able to boost its local content?
We were able to reach 70% Saudisation by heavily investing in training and development in-kingdom. We formed the right partnerships with vocational training institutes, such as SADA [Saudi Arabian Drilling Academy], SPSP [Saudi Petroleum Services Polytechnic] and NITI [National Industrial Training Institute]. These entities helped us immensely with our Saudisation efforts. We are also collaborating with other academic institutions such as Effat University and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.
How important are digital technologies in this era of oil and gas operations?
Digitalisation is a priority, particularly with what is happening today. We have already embarked on a JV with C3.ai, a company that is leading the AI space. Through BHC3.ai, we aim to accelerate the digital transformation of the energy sector, with a broad portfolio of technologies and solutions ranging from sensors and edge analytics to enterprise-scale artificial intelligence to help our customers get better data and make better decisions.
In today’s world, operating remotely and managing data over distances is more important than ever. Remote operations, critical asset monitoring and virtual testing limits HSE risk, reduces costs and improves performance, and this is what our customers need today.
How has the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) programme assisted the development of your company?
IKTVA complements our overall strategy in Saudi Arabia. We received an IKTVA award for “Best in Saudization” last February for our commitment to drive localisation in the country as well as our alignment to Saudi Vision 2030. We are focused on building a strong energy ecosystem and developing local capabilities while leveraging our local facilities. We are identifying local suppliers and investing in developing and procuring them to support our operations globally. These metrics were developed through IKTVA and put us in a position to win even further.
Is the Saudi oil and gas industry supportive of green initiatives?
The transition to a low-carbon economy is part of how we and our customers operate. Baker Hughes is supporting the energy transition and is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We already developed a technology for methane detection called LUMEN and provide methane detection and corrosion monitoring through Avitas. We believe carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) is essential to meet the world’s climate goals. We are offering an integrated suite of technologies to capture, process, store and monitor CO2 emissions which can enable Saudi Aramco to achieve its green initiatives.