Ready to compete in Angola and beyondMay 30, 2022
Claudio Francisco, general manager of ENGCONSULT, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s involvement and strategy in Angola's oil and gas sector and its plans for regional growth and international partnerships. ENGCONSULT is an Angolan provider of engineering consulting and technical assistance.
Can you give us an overview of the company’s activities?
ENGCONSULT is an Angolan engineering consulting company providing design and works supervision and co-ordination in the sector of buildings and for water, roads and energy infrastructures. We started this business in 2011 because we felt a gap in our market in this sector.
Since the very beginning, we have performed very well in providing co-ordination and supervision services for public works and works in the water supply system sector, where we still have our main projects.
Then, despite the economic crisis Angola faced in 2014, we saw an opportunity to grow, and we decided to expand beyond Angola and started working in Mozambique and Sao Tomé. We began in Angola, but we have a global view of our sector and region.
What is ENGCONSULT’s involvement in the oil and gas sector and what are your main expectations within it?
Companies need an ISO certification to work in the oil and gas sector. As the pandemic delayed our plan to obtain this certification for three years, we have only just started to get involved in the industry. However, we will obtain it by June 2022, and we’ll be able to enter the oil and gas market. We will focus on social and environmental engineering consulting related to the control of flora and fauna, audits and project management.
We are aware that this sector is highly competitive, with companies that have been in the market for many years, and that we are the newcomers. However, we aim to be a top-five national engineering service provider in the next 10 years within the oil and gas sector. We want to become a reference in the market.
What kind of clients are you planning to target?
Since 2014, we have been working with both private companies and multilateral institutions and with all the major International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, etc. Our target now is to work directly with the leading companies in the oil and gas sector and operators such as TotalEnergies, Chevron and Eni and with reference Angolan companies.
Right now, we are investigating the market to gather information about what clients generally ask consultants, the prices, and what know-how, expertise, and specific equipment are required.
How can your services support the government’s plans to boost electrification?
In Angola, there are places where people don’t have water or electricity, and in most cases, water is strictly connected with power generation capacity. Electrification projects are developed in parallel with water supply systems. Since we know the country’s geographical areas very well, we have been providing environmental impact studies for both kinds of projects.
With our water supply and storage system construction services, we can contribute to overcoming this gap, particularly given our strong knowledge of the territory and our solid connections with local and administrative authorities as well as with social agents.
Although we are very competent in conducting feasibility analyses and assessing the social impact of projects from an engineering perspective, we must grow in the areas of topography and geotechnical engineering.
How can international partnerships help local companies like yours penetrate the sector more?
When you are new in an area, you need a partner to give you knowledge and expertise to do things faster and better. We only have a few partners as building up partnership relations takes time and effort, but we collaborate with them on many projects. We have partners from Germany and Spain in the water supply system sector. Meanwhile, in the electric sector we are making arrangements with a significant international British company.
We are working with a consultant with more than 35 years of international experience in the environmental area. However, it is not easy to attract partners for the oil and gas sector considering that most of the multinational companies have been in Angola for several years, and many of them already have local partners and knowledge of the sector. We are looking to create long-term partnerships with lasting objectives. But the most significant challenges are the language and cultural barriers.
To what extent did the pandemic affect your business activities?
Despite the financial crisis and the pandemic, we increased our number of employees, almost doubling it. Companies were calling us to deliver services related to the construction of water systems and project management because we have a good mix of expertise and have engineers from both within and outside of Angola and because of our strong presence in the country.
Especially during the pandemic, this expertise was our main advantage since companies needed supervision and consultancy services and we were already here ready to provide them. For example, we worked on the Uige and Ndalatando projects, managing the construction of water storage systems for the Ministry of Energy and Water. The Ndalatando project has a capacity of 660 cubic metres per hour and a construction investment value of almost USD 25 million.
What is your assessment of the local content decree, and what kind of benefits can it bring to your activities?
The oil and gas sector is very selective and one of the most competitive when it comes to engineering services. We have an advantage because we are a local company whose services fall under the exclusivity and preferential regimes. However, this is not the only thing that counts because even if you’re on the list, you will not have the capacity to deliver those services if you’re not good enough. For us, service delivery is the most important thing.
What is your strategy to expand beyond Angola?
We would like to export our knowledge of the water and energy infrastructure sectors, and we believe that we will have some room for growth beyond Angolan borders. When we started operating in Mozambique and Sao Tomé, we adopted the same business strategy focusing on the strengths that we implemented here, and it worked. We will also try to use this strategy in the nearby countries we’re currently targeting. We’re looking with interest at the Zambian market because they have several projects in the water sector. It’s important to note that this strategy is also accomplished by creating good partnerships with well-experienced companies in these countries.