Long-term impactJune 12, 2019
TOGY talks to Ahmed Sherbini, vice-president and local business line manager of ABB for Electrical Industries (ABB Arab), about Egypt’s global competitiveness and local competition within the market, as well as the implementation of digitalisation and modernisation in the hydrocarbons industry. ABB Arab is a manufacturer of electrical and automation equipment.
How globally competitive is Egypt’s hydrocarbons industry today?
The new exploration and concessions have put us in a good position as a country. We are targeting big players in this field, players which are already in the country or are looking at investing in Egypt. There are consortiums targeting concessions as well, and things are booming.
We believe this will have a good effect over time, not in the short term but in the longer run. For example, we had Zohr’s discovery a few years back, and it took a lot of concentrated effort from the country to put things in place to develop this project in record time. We believe that the future will be bright for Egypt.
How much competition is there within the market?
We have a team focused on price analysis. We are winning and losing; that’s how any competition goes. We respect our competitors and of course we aim to grab as much business as possible. No one can win everything. We base our business on fair competition and if we lose anything, we analyse it and consider what wins we can gain elsewhere.
Our competitors are on the same level, but we have advanced technology in some areas and they have it in others. We are all trying to compete on technology and price, and in the end that benefits our customers. We try to compete in the areas of service, operations and maintenance.
What is your assessment of the latest activities in the downstream area?
We have a lot of projects in the downstream area. It’s booming, and we are doing a lot of work on extensions for existing plants and new projects. For instance, we have a fertiliser plant project for NCIC. We are expecting that if all these projects come through, we will have a great deal of success and be in a position to export. We have been wanting to get into this position for many years.
Before the Zohr discovery we were in a bad position with regards to gas for domestic and industrial use. There were many plant shutdowns or partial shutdowns, which affected our economy. Now they are all working properly, which is the most important benefit of the Zohr project.
What is your outlook for Egypt’s hydrocarbons industry in the coming years?
Hydrocarbons are a main area for us. There is a giant plant in the works but unfortunately it has been delayed. We do believe it will get back on track. The downstream industry is partially in place and booming, but if the Tahrir Petrochemical Complex was in place, I believe it would move the country to a different phase.
The benefits will come not only to those participating, but to everyone. In Zohr for example, we didn’t participate in the main project but we have participated in some small pieces and in the end we are supporting the customer and we got some business as well. These big projects offer opportunities for many.
How well positioned is Egypt to become the East Mediterranean energy hub?
Egypt will be an energy hub, no doubt about that. We have now a surplus in energy and are exporting it to support our neighbouring countries. ABB is moving in that direction. We are aligning our focus with the movement of the business. That is why we have integrated oil and gas and chemicals and energy, as well as power and water, into one unit. We want to focus on this booming business, seize opportunities and support the country.
To what extent are the modernisation programme and the digitalisation concept being applied successfully?
ABB started introducing digitalisation and its automated control solutions and systems years ago in the Egyptian and African markets. This was mainly in the industrial sector, i.e. oil and gas, chemicals and petrochemicals, cement, pub and paper, food and beverage, etc. With the development of the ABB digitalisation portfolio and solutions, we can cover complete plants digitalisation in almost all different sectors, i.e. power, different utilities, all industrial sectors, rail, port and transportation, residential and commercial buildings, data centres, e-mobility, smart cities, etc.
The Egyptian government’s strategy and directions are based on moving towards implementing the highest technologies and digitalisation in all new projects and cities. This adds on our shoulders the responsibility of introducing to the market the different solutions to maximising the benefit from the digital implementation.
What technologies are you looking at introducing into the Egyptian market?
We are trying to have the EOW [Extended Operator Workplace] in Egypt; we have one in the building here for our exhibitions and to present it to customers. We presented it at EGYPS 2018. The EOW is mainly for the operators because they are the main players in enhancing efficiency. We are trying to show the importance of the EOW to customers.
We have started to launch new, more economical versions of the EOW to reduce the gap between the EOW concept and the standard one. We want to attract more customers/players to start this experience, which we believe will make a difference for them. This is one of the most important technologies we have.
Our portfolio covers many areas in digitalisation. For transformers and motors, we have started to provide smart versions with full control over them from mobile devices. We have good experience with telemetry for measuring wells, which spreads over a wide area. We have some technology to gather all the information into a centre to monitor and control the production area. We have a solution for leak detection in water, gas or crude oil pipelines.
We have a lot to provide, and we have unique expertise. Customers expect something different and more value addition. It’s a win-win because they get what they need and we get more business.
ABB digitalisation technology is a complete solution and platform based on covering the four layers you can have at any site or plant, which are 1. ‘Know More’ by collecting all possible information using our smart devices and sensors. 2. ‘Do More’ by installing our automated systems and solutions. 3. ‘Do Better’ by adding our optimised plants enterprise solutions. 4. ‘Together’ by the collaboration of using the benefit and information from the over 500 BUSD installations we have worldwide. ABB’s partnership with the two main players Microsoft and IBM succeeded to build the strongest platform for common technologies for devices, edge and cloud. This would meet our customer targets and values regarding safety, uptime, speed and yield.
Could you highlight some of your key projects in Egypt?
We are generally working with most of the strategic projects. We have very good relations with most of the companies. We had an important project for gas, but because most of the attention was on Zohr we didn’t get the focus we should have. This was the Atoll project for PhPC, a BP subsidiary. It was for feeding gas to the network. It went very smoothly and we had a good experience and received an incentive because we completed the project ahead of schedule. It was a very successful project for us and for BP.
We are now participating with Petrojet in two projects: One is a terminal unit for the private sector and the other is with El Nasr chemical company, related to the army, a strategic project. Time is critical but we are doing our best to provide the best support. At ABB we are targeting the complete portfolio, but at the same time are participating in any activity – electrification, instrumentation and control, etc. We want to be part of the success stories.