Expertise for the world’s changing energy needsFebruary 23, 2023
Worley’s senior vice-president for Oman, UAE, Iraq, and North Africa, talks to The Energy Year about the GCC as an epicenter of transitional energy projects.
To what extent is the GCC becoming an epicentre of transitional energy projects?
Worley’s climate change mission statement is to contribute project delivery and technical expertise to enable our customers meet the world’s changing energy needs in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner. To this end, we have set ourselves the task of retrieving 75% of our revenue from the energy transition space while the remaining 25% will come from the conventional oil and gas industry, which is still crucial in enabling the energy transition. We are not decreasing the amount of work we have in the hydrocarbons space; we are simply increasing our presence in transitional energy projects.
The GCC is a hotspot for transitional energy initiatives such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), blue and green hydrogen/ammonia and (e-)methanol, wind and solar farms, and desalination plants. We decided to set up a regional centre of excellence [CoE] in the OUINA region to cater for this new reality. This region has the right environment due to its political and economic stability, in addition to its disposition to develop large-scale projects of this nature.
For instance, Oman is developing a 25-GW mega-venture in green hydrogen (Green Energy Oman) for which Worley has completed the initial feasibility study. BP is heavily focused on developing their first mega green hydrogen project in Oman. We are already executing various high-level studies at the governmental level for Egypt, Oman and the UAE.
We believe that we need to continue to accelerate the recruitment of international experts into this region so that we can remain focused and responsive to our regional customer requirements and be able to act with precision, and speed. We are leaders in the region, being able to handle projects from the conceptual stage all the way to the FEED and EPCM stage.
In the UAE, ADNOC is making announcements about embracing a cleaner and greener energy mix. The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant recently started up Unit 3 and its expansion is already planned through new units. Its four reactors combined will be able to provide 25% of the UAE’s electricity needs when fully operational. Additionally, solar power is also on the rise and we have two of the largest PV farms in the world, namely Noor Abu Dhabi and Al Dhafra.
Despite these landmarks, oil and gas production will continue to be essential to the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation. The country aims to hit the 5-million-barrel benchmark by 2027 and in this quest, CCUS is becoming a major factor for ADNOC in ensuring a much cleaner process for enabling the expansion of oil and gas production.
Our partnership with ADNOC in the provision of consultancy and engineering services has demonstrably added value to every ADNOC barrel. This partnership is built on mutual trust, co-operation and a shared commitment to meeting energy needs while promoting sustainability, which aligns with Worley’s purpose.
As a trusted and reliable consultant, we have helped ADNOC to develop and implement strategies to reduce its carbon footprint through increasing energy efficiency; H2 sourcing/upgrading; carbon capture, utilisation and storage; and the integration of new technologies to support ADNOC’s journey towards a more sustainable future. We take pride in our role as one of the main consultants to ADNOC and are committed to helping the company achieve its sustainability goals.
How could the EPCM model address bottlenecks in the traditional EPC model?
Companies require highly qualified levels of engineering to execute FEED. Yet, there is a shortage of engineering resources globally. Many offices are turning away work because they do not have the capacity. Logically, we see contractors competing over the market’s scarce resources.
Secondly, historically, the contracting and tendering process in the UAE are too rigid for what is to come. ADNOC has relatively strict tendering policies and procedures, which we fully acknowledge and respect, and we now see customers like ADNOC leaning towards alternative commercial models. That is a good sign that customers are also realising that change is needed.
One of these alternative commercial models is to utilise the global experience Worley has gained in EPCM. We have demonstrated on many mega-scale projects the benefits to both the customer and Worley that we can significantly reduce cost, risk and project schedule, without having any negative impact on quality. A recent and ongoing example is our EPCM work with BP on the Khazzan field in Oman, which was globally recognised within Worley and BP as being one of the most successful project executions in recent times.
For planned projects, we can further reduce the schedule by working together to ensure that we manage the concept, FEED and EPCM contract in a way where we can optimise the key deliverables at each stage and allow the next phase to commence in parallel with the previous phase. We have a proven track record of this execution model.
It is very promising to see how ADNOC is now floating tenders for EPCM as this further increases our trust that ADNOC management are always adapting to what the market requires.
What important contracts have you secured in the areas of gas and petrochemicals in the UAE?
Over the last few years, we’ve ramped up our gas processing expertise. We work closely with ADNOC, helping them achieve their gas production targets. Natural gas is a growing industry in this country as the government is determined to achieve gas self-sufficiency by 2030. Not only is ADNOC focusing on their sour gasfields, there is also plenty of associated gas in the oil plays they are now focusing on to eventually hit 5 million bopd. The NOC is also pushing LNG, where there is potential for growth given the current status of the global energy market.
Worley is involved in most of the gas-related projects ADNOC has in its portfolio. For example, we completed the conceptual study for MERAM, Maximising Ethane Recovery and Monetisation, and have also completed the large FEED ahead of schedule. We are working alongside ADNOC to ensure that the right contracting model is selected and executed. The MERAM project is the feedstock for Borouge and is therefore a critical project for Borouge and the UAE. We secured several LNG contracts, as well as several large conceptual and FEED projects with ADNOC Offshore.
Likewise, we were also awarded a project management contract for the EPC phase of the Borouge 4 expansion. This fourth expansion will boost the production capacity of polyolefins – including polyethylene and polypropylene – to 6.4 million tonnes per year to make it the largest single-site polyolefins complex in the world. Being part of these important projects says a lot about our footprint in this country.
What bet are you making on in-country value (ICV) creation?
ICV should be based on the calculation of diverse factors: how much a company invests throughout the year in terms of UAE nationals, in-country procurement, local initiatives or sponsorship, among many other things.
Over recent years we have conducted an aggressive talent identification initiative for young Emiratis, especially women. We put them through rigorous training programmes and want them to rise to the challenge. We are very proud of this initiative as it is a breath of fresh air that will lead the company’s future success.
Our latest move with regards to ICV is linked to our procurement efforts. In some of the EPC or EPCM contracts we are executing, we focus on local vendors, manufacturers and fabricators and use their ICV when evaluating tenders. In order to promote local companies in the region, we have set up a local procurement hub. Therefore, we are now expanding our procurement capability, and preparing for larger EPCM ventures.
How are you achieving knowledge transfer in the region and what aims do you have for the UAE?
With all engineering contractors, most of the offices worldwide are stretched for resources. We acknowledge this and we do our best to find ways of continuing to supply sufficient world-class capability in this region, whether in Oman or the UAE. We identify key talents from the market, recruit and ensure that we collaborate with our current centres of excellence to have sufficient expertise and effective oversight in some of the new ventures we are embarking on.
Through this process, we gain further experience and capabilities regionally, and grow our presence and ability to respond to our customers’ growing needs. We have been actively transferring our internal knowledge on wind, based in The Hague, to our Omani office. We will soon have the full capacity to run solar and wind engineering from Oman, and we have also recruited green hydrogen specialists into Oman to complement the CCUS, blue hydrogen and desalination experience we have in the UAE.
Together, we are well on our way to achieving our goal of having regional CoEs in the right fields to cater to all energy requirements in this region. Having the expertise centralised in the region is beneficial in terms of cost, availability, responsiveness and in-country value.
Our aim is to elevate our reputation in this region for having world-class resources a stone’s throw away from our customers. Major investments in mega-projects are being made here because it is cheaper to do these mega-projects here than it is in other parts of the world. In this region, Oman, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE are hotspots for transitional energy projects and are critical for energy security and stability in Europe and the Middle East, and we are at the heart of it.
I have never been so motivated and so passionate to be part of a global company such as Worley, as the team spirit and commitment from our management and shareholders is second to none, and we are all marching to the same beat and making a real impact, creating a more sustainable world.
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