Building capacity in AngolaMay 3, 2022
Mathieu Carrazé, Friedlander’s Angola country manager, talks to The Energy Year about where the company sees opportunities in Angola for its range of services and the competitive advantages it has built through innovation and cost optimisation. Friedlander provides engineering, construction and maintenance services to the oil and gas, storage, mining and industrial sectors.
To what extent would you say that the upstream sector is going through a revival?
I think the performance of the upstream sector in 2022 will remain at the same level as 2021. It is difficult to analyse how the new projects entering into production might impact the rest of the value chain. The low levels of oil and gas-related financial investments throughout recent years will definitely affect the performance of the upstream sector and of the economy as a whole.
We are currently at a crossroads for oil and for energy. All companies are now focusing on the carbon issue and this will for sure affect the investment in the future. I expect oil and gas companies to become more sustainable than before. This will affect the number of investments and potential big projects, which will increase year by year – but gradually, not exponentially.
Do you see any new opportunities in fabrication maintenance and service maintenance?
It will certainly increase a little bit, but not at the same pace as in the past. When we talk about a maintenance project, it will be partly revamping, also replacement of the affected equipment. We will have opportunities to do all aspects of maintenance.
What are your key activities and projects in-country?
We are not just a manufacturing or construction company. We also provide a range of other services, and this is our commercial approach. The group is one of the main actors in France in terms of industrial cleaning, and in Angola we are working on a cleaning contract, with all equipment dedicated for an ATEX environment and people trained for NORM activities.
We also provide E&I works for integrated projects such as EPC contracts.
We are doing works in the areas of structural, piping and downstream fabrication, as well as fabrication maintenance. Today, we are working on well jumpers for TotalEnergies. In the past, we used to do two or three jumpers per month, but today there isn’t enough demand to do that. We have two big projects for TotalEnergies within the next three years, but no sustainable demand coming from other clients.
Do you see opportunities to become more involved in the downstream sector?
We are not just an oil and gas company; we are also a structural and piping fabrication company, providing services in terms of, for example, fabrication of tanks. In Ivory Coast for instance, we wield a lot of capacity for their storage and distribution. And Friedlander also plays a big part in the construction of tanks in Africa, which is important for countries’ development.
What are your competitive advantages in terms of innovation and cost optimisation?
The group’s aim is to provide clients with international standards, as we have in Angola. In oil and gas, this means having international certifications, such as the OHSAS certification for safety management and ISO 9001 for quality management.
The first value of our company is our employees, as they are the ones that are achieving the services. They are also the ones we are listening to and engaging to innovate. We are managing an incentive programme each year to recompense the most efficient innovation coming from our employees. These innovations give us a high value in terms of safety, quality and production, as they are coming from field constraints.
We are also focusing our innovation through the digitalisation of our production process. We already started to use digitalisation tools in our yard last year, which is an achievement. For example, take the dimensions of a pipe: before this was recorded on paper, and now it directly goes on the tablet’s software and avoids a lot of issues in terms of the pattern. Now, we also have new-generation tools for welding and new cutting machines that enable us to produce more with the same number of people and with a high value placed on safety and personal skills for our task force.
How does the new local content decree affect Friedlander and what is the company’s position regarding training locals?
More than 90% of Friedlander Angola’s employees are local. We have been here for 25 years, so we see ourselves as a key player in local content development. We are definitely focused on local content, since our way of working involves increasing the skill level of local people. In order for us to develop continuously, we need local people to be involved more and more.
One big issue for the development of the upstream is how to train people in Angola. We need more universities and more skills training for people who can then become involved in the local industry, rather than just having people educated abroad.
What is your strategy for growth in the future?
Our aim is to provide what the group can provide given the local context, focusing on sustainable growth through gradual and steady development without bringing in projects bigger than we can achieve. We don’t expect to have bigger projects in the future because any big project will be fought for by all those companies larger than us, such as Petromar and Sonamet. We will continue to do fabrication maintenance and small projects, such as small tie-back projects.