Strong contributions in QatarJune 18, 2020
Max-André Delannoy, CEO of Qatar International Cables Company (QICC) and general manager for GCC countries at Nexans, talks to The Energy Year about how the company has adapted to the Covid-19 period and why it is reallocating resources to support larger-scale projects. A joint venture between Nexans and Al Mirqab, QICC manufactures low-, medium- and high-voltage cables in its plant in Mesaieed.
How well has Qatar handled the crisis and how has QICC adapted to it?
We have handled the crisis at several levels: first the protection of our workforce, then the continuity of our operations, notably with the adaptation of our supply chain, and finally the adaptation to our customers’ evolving needs during the crisis. This has enabled us to guarantee the sustainability of our business.
When the pandemic broke out in Qatar, we already had the experience from Nexans group of what had happened in China and Italy. So, we were able to anticipate the measures that would come and the measures we would have to take ourselves to protect our teams and our business. The priority was to protect the work teams. We provided PPE [personal protective equipment], set up measures and communicated with them about social distancing and cleaning.
We asked employees in the office to work from home. In the plant you cannot ask people to work from home, so they have continued work and we have not stopped operating for a single day. We’ve been able to apply social distancing in the plant for their protection. We split the workforce into two teams, so if someone infects one team, at least the other can continue to work. We also made sure that people from each team live in the same place so they don’t mix with others.
As of today, we have a very limited number of cases. We are proud of this as it is not by chance but because of the measures we took. We also adjusted our supply chain as we source material from different countries which have been impacted by Covid-19. Some plants have been locked down. We managed to adjust this successfully so we could continue our full operations.
We work in different segments in oil and gas, power generation, infrastructure and building, and these segments are not all impacted in the same way by the crisis. In Qatar, the government requested that the major projects not be stopped because of the crisis, including projects related to the FIFA World Cup 2022. These projects are ongoing but the smaller ones have been impacted by this slowdown. So we are reallocating our capacity to support the big projects.
What are some of the opportunities for Nexans in Qatar’s oil and gas industry?
Big developments such as the North Field Expansion project are continuing. This project’s schedule has been adjusted as the negotiation for the EPC contracts is a bit more complex now. QP announced a USD 19-billion LNG vessel deal with South Korea, so despite the oil price shock, the gas mega-projects are confirmed in Qatar. This is good for medium- and long-term activities.
The oil and gas projects currently in the construction phase in Qatar are rather limited and don’t require too much cable, so we don’t have a lot of activity in this segment. On the energy side, the next big project is the Siraj 800-MW solar farm and we are bidding to supply cable for it. In addition, the infrastructure projects are also continuing, such as the airport expansion. So on the oil and gas side, there is not much activity in the short term, which has impacted us, but the medium term is confirmed.
Do you expect to see an enhanced push for local manufacturing in Qatar?
There is a strong push, but it is not new. It started with Qatar National Vision 2030 and was accelerated with the blockade. As Nexans Group, we transferred a lot of technology to QICC since forming the joint venture in Qatar. Since the start of the blockade in 2017, we have expanded our plant in Qatar and brought new technologies to support the country, notably high voltage cables, aluminium cables and specific cables for oil and gas projects, bringing the best of Nexans capabilities here.
How important are cost optimisation and enhanced efficiencies these days?
Cost optimisation is indeed key, and that is a continuous process at QICC. We optimise cost while not compromising on quality. Cost optimisation comes from mastering the process, using the right raw material for the right property and being very efficient in our work in the organisation.
Beyond that, what is key for the customer is the total cost of ownership. That is why, in addition to cables, we are proposing a range of services and solutions involving engineering, supply chain, etc. in order to optimise the full cost from customer perspective.
What are your medium-term objectives in Qatar?
Qatar remains at the core of what we do, but obviously we also want to develop at export. Different countries have not been impacted in the same way by this crisis, so we will adjust to the market. What we want as Nexans and QICC in Qatar and elsewhere is to offer our customers full solutions, not just kilometres of cables. And this is relevant in the energy sector, especially for the solar farm, where we will be working with the customer or contractor from the beginning to optimise the project from a cable perspective.
How can Nexans help Qatar navigate through the crisis?
Nexans, through QICC, is making a strong contribution to the Qatar National Vision 2030. It is about developing the activity of Qatar beyond the core oil and gas projects, localising manufacturing and bringing technologies. Nexans is supporting this and the best proof is that we reinvested in 2017 in expanding our Mesaieed plant and bringing more technologies to Qatar to support all the projects and to be ready to export from the Qatari plant.
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