Remote support in challenging timesMay 25, 2021
Pedro Benedito, sales and marketing manager of Bureau Veritas Angola, talks to The Energy Year about how the company has forged new areas of growth during the challenging Covid-19 era and opportunities it sees in the downstream sector. Present in Angola since 2002, Bureau Veritas provides testing, inspection and certification services.
How has Bureau Veritas ensured business continuity over the past year?
The second half of 2020 has been a challenging period since the first occurrence of Covid-19 in Angola in March 2020 but we have never stopped working to ensure the health and safety of our clients and customers.
For sure, many projects were halted, and many businesses demobilised their workforces, but fortunately we have a unique business model that has allowed us to respond quickly and implement solid control measures. Since September 2020, we’ve seen a gradual increase in activity despite some logistical and operational challenges.
In addition to the Covid-19-imposed measures, we implemented our own.
How has your activity evolved while dealing with the challenges and burdens of Covid-19?
In Angola, a large part of our activity comes from oil and gas, and even though we were impacted over the past year by the crisis, we are currently on the right path to increase capex due to an increase in industry activity. We continue to collaborate with all of the country’s major operators, including Total, Chevron and Eni. We also work with a number of service companies, including Saipem, Petromar, Angoflex and Technip.
Lifting equipment inspections, services and testing have been a priority for us in Angola, and we have conducted inspections in the most cost-effective and efficient manner to assist operators in lowering costs. We also offer quality control and assurance, as well as non-destructive testing, and we are working to improve our asset integrity practices to assist clients in managing critical assets, equipment and infrastructure in their existing facilities.
What strategy did the company put in place to forge new areas of growth during this period?
As a services provider, we have aimed to reinforce our presence and assist the operators’ work in these crucial times. Remote inspection has been an important area, as well as remote ISO certification and recertification. One area that has been particularly challenged by the current climate is remote technology training.
We have developed some service lines, such as the Safe Guard label, which aims to assist companies in restarting their business by establishing all necessary health, safety and hygiene conditions. Our clients in Europe and North Africa, among others, have benefitted greatly from our Safe Guard offer. In our operating group, Morocco, for example, have been greatly benefitting from our Safe Guard service line.
How best can international services providers react to the country’s new local content regime?
Because more than 90% of our workforce is already Angolan, the law would have little effect on our employees. We applaud this new law and hope that it will shift the emphasis away from technical training and toward more educational training. We should incorporate the educational component into existing training processes, and Bureau Veritas can help the country in improving technical trainings. Some areas are particularly challenging for training providers because they must be certified by international accreditation bodies, such as crane operator, lifting methods, crawl space entry, or walking aloft.
What opportunities do you see in the downstream sector going forward?
At Bureau Veritas, upstream, midstream and downstream are equally relevant. In these areas, we have worked closely with a number of companies, including Sonangol and its subsidiaries, Total Marketing & Services, and Trafigura.
The Angolan government launched an ambitious strategy to develop its refining capabilities and reduce its reliance on imported fuel volumes; in this regard, Bureau Veritas can be of assistance. We offer a variety of downstream services, such as structural assessment and tank volumetric control. Our third-party inspection and NDT downstream services can ensure that all facilities meet the most recent safety standards and avoid issues that could result in downtime.
On the other hand, we are keeping a close eye on the energy transition.
However, Angola is primarily dependent on oil production, and despite some initial efforts to diversify the country’s energy mix, we anticipate that oil and gas will continue to be the country’s primary source of revenue in the coming years.
We will contribute to the global energy transition by assisting our clients and the Angolan government in pursuing their ambitious renewables and diversification agendas.
How do you plan on fuelling the company’s growth in the year ahead?
Angola still has several challenges related to foreign currency, visa applications and requirements and other areas. As long as the foreign currency issue is mitigated, we will be fine. Oil and gas will remain the backbone of our activity and we are confident about seeing a rebound in 2021 since all projects before Covid-19 were postponed and these will hopefully happen in the second half of 2021.