On the path to a global footprintApril 21, 2021
Ghanem Saeed Al Mazrouei, chairman and managing director of Al Asab, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s growth, current projects and expansion plans, as well as the impact it has seen from ADNOC’s in-country value (ICV) initiative. Al Asab provides oil and gas and EPC services as well as equipment supplies in Middle East and African markets.
How did Al Asab grow into the large construction company it is today?
Prior to being qualified as an EPC contractor bidder with ADNOC, we worked as subcontractors. In 2013, ADNOC announced a major pipeline project and Al Asab was keen to participate in the bid. Lacking experience in similar projects had become a barrier, even though we had approached ADNOC and presented our profile, explaining our technical and financial capabilities and that we had adequate resources to perform the job.
We relentlessly continued our perseverance with great enthusiasm and finally with the support of ADNOC we were invited to bid for a gas pipeline project for ADNOC Gas Processing. It was 54 kilometres of 24-inch diameter pipeline connecting the Bu Hasa, Bab and Habshan fields. In 2013, we were successful in bagging this first EPC contract, with a value around USD 30 million, and the rest is history.
What are your ongoing projects?
Currently we are executing six EPC projects worth around USD 1 billion directly with ADNOC: two projects in the Bab gasfield, two in the Asab oilfield and one project each in the Bu Hasa oilfield and Rumaitha oilfield. All of these projects are running concurrently.
In addition, we are carrying out some projects in other sectors, such as infrastructure. Currently we are executing two road projects for 100 kilometres in Ethiopia and recently we have completed a 56-kilometre express highway in the Basra Governorate in Iraq. We are also bidding in the oil and gas sector, which is one of our core businesses, especially in the Basra region in Iraq and other oilfields.
To what extent did Covid-19 affect your operations?
Projects are continuing as the client has not suspended any ongoing projects of Al Asab, and bidding for new projects is still going on. The global pandemic did not affect our operations as we had already mobilised our human resources before the start of the pandemic.
Are you looking to enter other markets in the GCC?
Our aim is to have a global footprint. We had already established a branch in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia targeting the oil and gas projects with Aramco. We see a huge business potential in the kingdom, like in the UAE, as they together contribute almost 17% of global production of crude. On the other hand, some business opportunities are also emerging in the MENA region, especially offshore.
How did you manage your labour-intensive construction operations during Covid-19?
We took all the necessary precautions as per the guidelines of the UAE government, like facilitating the quarantine rooms in our workers’ camps and carrying out a lot of Covid-19 testing. We had implemented all the guidelines set by the government for contractors.
To navigate through this pandemic without having any effect on operations is very difficult. But our approach was to prioritise certain activities as per the client needs. For example, in the case of a shutdown activity, we cannot delay. We need to finish it because it’s related to the working plant. Rising to the occasion, we prioritised the tasks to complete the project within the timeframe.
How do you assess the UAE’s efforts to increase local capabilities?
In order to maximise local content, we have awarded substantial packages to manufacturers in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi; Dubai; and Northern Emirates.
There is a huge contribution to the local economy going on in these areas. As long as companies’ shareholders are willing to invest in new projects, you will see the effect cascading through the related sectors. Whoever wins bids should be investing in the local sector and working with domestic SMEs because this will add value for everyone.
We at Al Asab have invested a lot in local recruitment to support Emiratisation, as well as rolling out some relevant scholarships for students. Moreover, we are making sure that we use locally developed technology as much as possible to improve accuracy and efficiency in our operations.
Why should investors look at opportunities in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi is a market where business standards on par with international standards are followed. There is transparency and accurate information is available, which are encouraging for those willing to come here and do business. International investors should not miss out on the opportunities in our country. We can see that many new stakeholders are taking part in the new construction projects.
Of all the things that encourage investors the most, we believe security is number one. In this regard, the UAE offers the best conditions. In addition, infrastructure development activity is very high in the region and this facilitates many business endeavours across multiple sectors.
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