On the safe side in TrinidadJune 7, 2018
Javed Birbal, managing director of Haztec Services Trinidad, talks to TOGY about the company’s presence in Trinidad and Tobago, its plans to move into the Guyanese market and the technologies the company offers or is developing. Present in the country since 2008, Haztec provides safety technology and services for a variety of oil and gas facilities.
On local risk management: “The companies focus much more heavily on risk management now. Safety is the end product of risk management, and we have seen that a shift has been made to hold the market and manage risk. If companies do not manage risk, that translates into losses.”
On company plans: “We expect to broaden our project base on the upstream side of things, but part of our strategy is to target the downstream industry in Trinidad, especially in the petrochemicals sector. Petrochemicals is definitely where we intend to go.”
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What are your ongoing projects in the domestic oil and gas industry?
In Trinidad, Haztec has had a continuous presence with BP. In 2018, we are assisting the company on the Cassia and Immortelle platforms for hot work. Haztec has also played a significant role in Atlantic LNG projects since 2014.
With the reinjection of capital since 2017, brownfield and greenfield projects are picking up in Trinidad. We expect to broaden our project base on the upstream side of things, but part of our strategy is to target the downstream industry in Trinidad, especially in the petrochemicals sector. Petrochemicals is definitely where we intend to go. We have started conversations with PCS Nitrogen to provide some support and we have some stuff with Phoenix Park Gas Processors. We also want to look at working with Methanex.
The process for getting into petrochemicals companies has changed. Five or six years ago, you would have met with a project team, presented what you had to offer and they would have made a decision. Now, we have seen a focus on proper purchasing practices and transparency from all the operators, midstream and downstream. Companies now have to do vendor registration first, and after that we can pursue the project and maintenance teams to present our technology. While that is a good practice, it has extended the time it takes to identify a customer or market, and then be able to penetrate that market.
What are some new technologies Haztec is working on?
One primary focus we have in 2018 is the release of new technology to the market that will help better manage risk. During the oil price downturn, it was not the right time for such a release. However, after all the commitments made in 2017, with the combined USD 4 billion that operators are jointly investing over the next four years, now is the time for our technology.
Our technology focuses on personal exposure monitoring. Our new gas monitoring system entails lower maintenance costs because it is a type of RFID [radio-frequency identification device], rather than a big hand-held one. It is not as cumbersome and the life of the technology is very long. It allows our clients to monitor and ensure that the exposure levels of their employees are at proper industrial safety levels.
Even in the US and other markets we have gone into, some risks have been overseen or not yet addressed because companies had not found an efficient way to do so. If we find the technology to do that, we will bring it to their attention. With activity ramping up in Trinidad, it is a very good thing to put these technologies on the market.
How does Haztec’s technology benefit players throughout the oil and gas value chain?
On oil and gas and petrochemicals facilities, the key thing is how we manage risks. Some of our major risks are flammable gases, explosions, fires and high-pressure piping and containers. These facilities have fixed detection systems that regulate everything that happens and conduct pressure checks to see if gas is escaping from anywhere. These facilities are specifically designed to do that.
Haztec comes in when repairs or major modifications are needed on those facilities. For example, on a platform, fixed detection systems are designed to be at wellheads, separators and vessels, but if you are going to go and put a deck extension to the southern side of your production deck, you do not have wireless gas detection on the side of your platform where you are going to build a scaffold, extend your reach and have people working. We can quickly mobilise our technology and extend the reach of the facility’s gas detection to that location.
How can your technology save costs for operators?
It is very expensive to modify existing facilities. Engineering needs to be done, then appraisal and technical review. Companies need to pay a contractor to come in and do that modification, then pay the commission to come and test it. In some cases, to do that, they might need to bring down critical detection equipment that would temporarily take certain parts of the facility off line, which translates into production downtime.
With our technology, we can quickly mobilise gas detectors, flash detection for fires and smoke detection for close quarters. Rather than having to do a full modification to the system, all that is needed is management to extend a communication line between our technology and their detection system for a time.
Another side on the economics of it is that this additional detection might only be needed for a month. We come in and save money with a reliable solution; you use it when you need it, like a rental. We have designed our business model so that companies do not have to buy anything from us. We have tailored our systems to where personnel, equipment and everything runs at around USD 1,200-1,300 per day. That cost is not even comparable to losing millions a day due to shutting down operations without using our technology.
What obstacles have you encountered in introducing this kind of technology and service to new markets?
The companies focus much more heavily on risk management now. Safety is the end product of risk management, and we have seen that a shift has been made to hold the market and manage risk. If companies do not manage risk, that translates into losses.
Originally, we would see that our customers would use our technology in worst-case scenarios – either they would have delayed the modification or they would have waited for a turnaround. We have always tried to explain the math behind that. In a turnaround, there is such a high probability of an accident because you try to compress so much work into such a small amount of time.
Using our technology, you can start your pre-work months in advance. You could install all your piping, bracers and vessels – everything – using the wellhead enclosure technology. That way, when you shut down, you just do your critical tie-ins. Not only does that remove the high probability of an accident, it also minimises the shutdown because you have done that pre-work. It all translates back to the economic benefits.
What is Haztec’s strategy in Guyana?
Guyana has the most potential for an oil and gas market in the region. We are approaching it as strategically as possible. We have worked with Exxon in multiple markets and expect to maintain our relationship in Guyana as well. While Exxon has been drilling in Guyana, it is not producing yet.
The Guyanese will need a lot of training, as they are brand new to the industry. The training side of our business is what we focus on. We have been doing fact-finding missions, looking at the geographical layout of where the activity is, doing analysis of where the market potential is and getting close to the point where we can finalise how to go into Guyana and where we can be of most assistance.
What is Haztec’s local content approach and how will you go about that issue in Guyana?
One of the core things about parent company Falck Group and Haztec is that we look to invest in the markets we enter. We try to invest heavily in local content. Haztec Trinidad is 95% Trinidadian. Our training centre has 100% local content. We expect to implement the same results in Guyana.
First, we identify the current expertise in the market in the existing business assets. We try to be ahead of local content policy in all the markets we enter. If we pay attention to what is said at the executive level, we can see the direction they want the market to go in.
Being a brand new oil and gas market, there will be a transition period where the experts from existing business centres would transfer the knowledge and experience that they have. Our strategy will be to take some key persons that we recruit from Guyana and send them to other facilities, have them come to Trinidad and work with the Haztec Trinidad division so they are exposed to how the business works on this side, and then put them back into their market.
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