Sustainable and turnkey equipment solutions in the UAEJanuary 19, 2023
Pat Fallon, deputy CEO of Byrne Equipment Rental, talks to The Energy Year about how the company is responding to client demand for sustainable equipment and its involvement in facility shutdown and turnaround activities. Byrne Equipment Rental provides equipment rental in the areas of oil and gas, industry, construction and events.
What trends do you see in the energy market and how is Byrne embracing them?
Global demand for oil and gas is at its peak and they will continue to be essential in the short to medium term in the Middle East. However, in the long term, crude oil is no longer seen as the driver of the economy in this part of the world. Parallel to its use, we will see an increase of green energy initiatives such as those for renewables and hydrogen as Gulf nations are pledging to lower their emissions. The UAE, for instance, has committed to hit net zero by 2050 and is making laudable efforts to stick to this promise.
Oil and gas are key drivers of our business and will continue to be so in subsequent years, which means that we will continue to benefit from the support given to the value chain of the hydrocarbons industry. Looking beyond this, we are also exploring the hybrid energy sector, and the new trends gaining traction in the region’s energy mix: renewables, nuclear and hydrogen.
Given the uptick of oil and gas activities, all of our business units related to the energy sector are going full tilt. From upstream to downstream, we are witnessing a surge of activities and the demand for our rental equipment is at a high.
How are you adapting to demand for more sustainable equipment?
Over the last 30 years, we have grown to become one of the largest and most diverse equipment rental companies in the region. In order to reach this point, we have tried to focus on multiple industries and subsections within each industry. For example, within the oil and gas sector we have specific units covering the upstream, midstream and downstream.
Alongside this, we have always listened to our customers’ requirements and built our fleet according to market demand. Today, the demand for greener solutions is on the rise and this is prompting us to explore avenues such as solar, hybrid and battery storage options within our fleet. As of now, we use large fossil fuel burning generators, but we are looking into more sustainable processes, and are inclined to embrace cleaner technologies.
Something we have explored is battery storage and biofuels. However, the problem is that there is neither the demand nor any governmental drive for low-emission engines. Introducing them unilaterally would make no economic sense as they are more expensive; biofuel running your engines is 20-30% more expensive than conventional fuel. Thus, people buy into the idea of sustainability but are not willing to pay the price, which is a barrier of entry for us in this respect.
Despite these challenges, in 2022 we launched new energy-efficient lighting products and we are planning to launch another product that runs purely on solar energy this year. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in the demand for hybrid engines which is something we are exploring.
What value proposition do you offer when it comes to turnkey solutions?
There has been an increased demand for turnkey solutions in the oil and gas industry in the past few years as companies no longer want to deal with multiple equipment suppliers, which lends itself to our multi-disciplined model. For instance, field operators prefer to have only one point of contact when it comes to renting and setting up modular camps or executing a rig move. This increases efficiency in both economic and timespan terms.
Our mechanical and non-mechanical fleet includes more than 14,000 items of equipment including power generators, multi-use portable modular buildings, oil-free compressors, a range of steam boilers, welding equipment and more, which gives us the capacity to take on entire contracts rolled out by large oil and gas players. We also partner with other suppliers to provide wider and more enhanced packages under the Byrne brand.
In total we have 16 operational bases and offices across the GCC, which demonstrates our capacity and capability as a one-stop shop for rental equipment and the largest single source of plant and equipment rental in the region.
To what extent are you involved in facility shutdown and turnaround activities?
We have important contracts and have built very close relationships with pretty much every NOC and major oilfield services company in the region and we support them with periodic shutdowns, ensuring they have the required materials and necessary accommodation.
Shutdowns and turnarounds are normally planned. At specific points in the activity of any plant, there is a period at which they must shut down and carry out essential maintenance. If they do not, they will probably face an unpredicted and more expensive shutdown at a later stage. While shutdowns are more of a routine project, turnarounds are on a larger scale. We are deeply involved in activities of this nature in downstream and petrochemical plants, being very active, for example, in shutdowns in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
How do you keep your fleet at the forefront technologically and compliant with industry standards?
We source our equipment from trusted suppliers who have a proven track record in the industry, be that from the US, China or Europe. We strive to ensure that our fleet is as up to date as possible with the latest technology as this is essential not only from a safety standpoint but in order for us to secure contracts from NOCs and IOCs, who have very high standards. We have also developed our own products over the years, working with certain manufacturers and packagers that have enabled us to have our own branded product.
How prospective is Saudi Arabia for Byrne and what growth strategy do you have in this market?
The UAE is our founding pillar where we had our inception in 1992. However, in 2001 we penetrated the Saudi market, which is now our largest market, surpassing our operations in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. It has probably been the place where we have seen the greatest development of our business over the past five to six years.
This comes as no surprise as the kingdom is on the move in terms of different mega-EPC contracts and mammoth energy-based ventures. The NEOM and Red Sea projects are only scratching the surface. There are multiple other projects being announced every other week in Saudi Arabia and the scale and size of these is unprecedented. The kingdom is pushing heavily for the diversification of its economy by betting on more sustainable and non-oil projects. Parallel to this, they are also making the most of their rich fossil fuel reserves, aiming to reach the 12.3-million-bopd benchmark by 2025.
We have a strong footprint in the country, with depots in Dammam, Riyadh, Turaif, Jeddah, Yanbu and Jubail and preparatory to the potential and magnitude of the market, we are in the process of setting up a brand-new 50,000-square-metre facility, which will be our HQ operations and logistics hub supporting all our business across the kingdom.
What is the formula behind Byrne’s status as a market leader with a solid local footprint?
Our ethos is based on the notion of being a multi-disciplined company, as opposed to being product- or sector-specific. We have multiple product lines; we cater to multiple industries and we listen to multiple customer needs. This has been one of the key drivers of our success over the past 30 years.
One could say we are solution providers for several industries. We have growing competition but one thing that differentiates us is our after-sale/backup service: A locally manned call centre ensuring that we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are now looking at how we can improve and enhance our services and take them to the next level, for example an option for the medium term could be a regional call centre.
We emerged from Covid into an area of tremendous opportunity and we are now investing in ourselves. For example, we welcomed some great people to the group and in 2023 we are launching our Byrne Training Academy, which aims to nourish the professional future of our people. We have now put together specific training programmes which are accessible to all our teams.
This is also aligned with our commitment to local content. We have been proactive in this regard by ensuring we employ local talent and propel the principle of Emiratisation. There are many highly educated and capable individuals and we want to help them grow through the career ladder. Training them also helps us to retain the solid, educated, competent professionals that are at the core of our business.