Egypt EMEC Hassan Taher

Maintaining the health and longevity of our fields is essential, and I believe this can be achieved by investing in more advanced software and chemicals.



July 1, 2019

Hassan Taher, managing director of Egyptian Mud Engineering and Chemicals Company (EMEC), talks to TOGY about challenges faced by local chemical manufacturing companies and the importance of production optimisation in Egypt. EMEC provides specialised drilling and production services to the oil and gas industry.

What major challenges are local chemical manufacturing companies facing?
It is very difficult for chemical plants to grow in Egypt because of the limited raw materials; many materials related to production chemicals are not available in the country. Local chemical manufacturers usually import from places that already have blending and manufacturing plants. This makes it very difficult to compete price-wise in production chemicals.
We focus on bringing our customer service as our edge.
Egyptian Canadian Company for Chemical Industries (ECC) is our blending facility for production chemicals, and it is the biggest such blending facility in Egypt. We do work with other production chemical providers to try to meet all the market demands and make sure that our customers are 100% satisfied.

Egypt has the biggest refining capacity in Africa. What should be done to utilise this to its full potential?
We have to promote production optimisation. Egypt has many E&P companies, some operating at a smaller scale, and therefore deploys less resources for optimising and enhancing existing fields. Maintaining the health and longevity of our fields is essential, and I believe this can be achieved by investing in more advanced software and chemicals. Right now at EMEC, we address this with our production chemical management systems and oil refinery chemicals such as corrosion inhibitors and demulsifiers.

How has EMEC been able to grow in a competitive market?
EMEC started operations in Egypt in 1983, and it was an uphill battle. Drilling fluids is one of the most technical services provided and it requires a high degree of expertise. To be able to compete with multinationals and convince clients that a local Egyptian company would be able to perform and offer the same level of service as those multinationals was a tremendous task.
The growth of the company has until now been purely organic.
Our first contract was with Bapetco, the joint venture between Shell and EGPC. We grew from there, one contract after another, proving that our performance and our Egyptian engineers were able to deliver these tasks at the same level as our competitors. We are always looking forward to new challenges while maintaining that high level of client satisfaction.

How important is R&D in your operations?
There are some key operators, who require with every new contract the submission of new technologies. We embrace that as it fosters innovation from service providers, and we have managed to get all of our new technology proposals approved by our clients, such as our high-performance water base drilling fluid system, filter-cake breaker and new LCM technologies. We have strategic alliances with companies such as Impact Fluids and certain chemical suppliers that are also leaders in the R&D field.
As we adapt to the market, we are focusing on R&D. Our central labs are based in Alexandria and we are investing heavily in R&D this year. That is where we see the market going; there is a demand for something new, for bringing a higher level of performance at a better cost.
We are also continuing to invest in our software technology. We have designed our own drilling fluid software, and are looking to develop it further.


What advantages give you the edge to compete with the big multinationals?
Our main competitive advantage is our price point. We try to be as competitive as we can and streamline our processes to ensure that we can offer the best price and the best performance.
We provide accessibility, which allows us to react pretty fast to market demands. It is very important that our clients feel that they have access to top management, and we provide that level of comfort.

How does EMEC ensure its activities are environmentally friendly?
Environmental protection has always been a big part of EMEC. We want to be an example and a leader in the market; our headquarters in Egypt is the first oil and gas company with a LEED Gold-certified building and the second overall LEED new construction in the country.
In our operations, we classify our drilling fluids into three different categories – blue, gold and green – which are water based, oil based and low-toxic synthetic oil-based muds. EMEC green systems always use highly biodegradable additives as well to reduce any negative impact on the environment.
We have added a waste management division to our portfolio. Solids control and waste management are both very complementary services to our drilling fluids core business. We are very excited about bringing new technology into waste management in Egypt. With the help of the government and EGPC, we can achieve something great in terms of reducing the negative impact on the environment.

How is EMEC’s Basic Drilling Fluids School fostering local content in Egypt?
It is our own in-house drilling fluids school, specifically set up for technical training of our drilling fluids engineers. We are not only investing in our own people but also in our clients, as we do train our clients’ engineers too. We have been working with many of our clients such as GUPCO on a yearly basis, providing their team with drilling fluids training courses and we are continuously enhancing and refining the programme to meet the requirements of each client.

What are your international expansion plans?
Our business development division has been working on Africa in 2018, exploring the market and conducting feasibility studies. As an African company, we would like to expand into sub-Saharan Africa. So far, we have covered a good amount of the drilling operations in North Africa.
It makes sense to go further into Africa and try to support and bring our services to our fellow African nations.
We have been very successful in the MENA region, and we are very excited about exploring new markets. Several countries have upcoming drilling campaigns and it would be very beneficial for Africa to try to bring in other businesses from the region.

What recent milestones would you highlight, such as having reached the mark of 10,000 wells?
Indeed, in August last year [2018], we hit the milestone of having drilled more than 10,000 wells. We were also part of drilling one of the deepest wells in the Western Desert, with Khalda Petroleum Company. Being able to achieve something that is technically difficult reminds us that we are at the forefront of oil and gas services in this country and in the region. We like challenges.
Since 2017, we have added two new courses to our Mud School including an advanced mud [course]. In 2018, the EMEC team has grown and surpassed 900 employees, of which 135 are housed in our new state-of-the-art headquarters building here in Cairo.

What is your strategy for the coming years?
Our strategy for the coming years is very simple: to continue focusing heavily on R&D with an end goal of providing clients with the highest-performing products at the best possible price while continuously addressing our environmental impact. This is why, as I mentioned before, expanding our new waste management division is a vital part of our strategy.
The heart of EMEC is its engineers, and only by investing in their development can we continue to deliver the best to our clients. Of course, none of this would be possible without the EMEC team, who work tirelessly and with the utmost dedication. Through them, we wish to be a beacon of excellence and innovation in the Middle East and Africa.

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