Companies are focused on optimising the performance and longevity of their ageing assets.


We are looking forward to being a part of the energy transition, not just in Trinidad but within the region.


Trends in Trinidad’s engineering demand

March 28, 2024

Kirk Aanensen, managing director of Balanced Engineering & Construction Management (BECM), and Candice Aanensen, the company’s operations director, talk to The Energy Year about trends in the demand for the company’s services and its approach to working on renewable energy facilities. BECM is a downstream-focused engineering design and project management company.

What key trends in demand for your services have you observed in the past year?
Kirk AANENSEN: The trends in demand for our services have remained largely the same since 2022. Our projects are mainly focused around maintenance/turnarounds and small- to medium-capital projects.
Capital budgets have been reduced in Trinidad because of the uncertainty in gas supply so there have not been any greenfield projects to work on. However, one notable change we have observed from our clients is an increase in requests for specialist engineering analysis of failures as part of their root cause analysis and fitness for service assessments of equipment. Companies are focused on optimising the performance and longevity of their ageing assets and environmental sustainability also continues to be an integral item on the agenda.

Have you observed industry players requesting more engineering solutions to help decarbonise their operations?
KA: Indeed, there is an increase in demand for these solutions as companies seek to comply with the regulations. We have not been approached by our clients to provide engineering solutions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions but we are observing that some of the downstream companies are exploring ways to capture their CO2 emissions and supply to other users.
Typically, they will consult the plant licensor or larger engineering companies specialising in sustainability and decarbonation to provide process optimisation engineering solutions. These are larger, capital-intensive projects that require major changes to their plants.

How prepared are you to work with any renewable energy facilities that may be incorporated into the Trinidadian industry?
Candice AANENSEN: Whenever we are approached by a client, we assess the scope, our current workload, resources, project risk profile and alignment with our team’s competencies before deciding to pursue it. Although it is a natural response to “say yes first and figure out the rest later on,” we must be responsible enough to know when something is simply not within our area of expertise.
For BECM to work on a green energy system, whether solar or wind, etc., several factors would need to be considered. There is a lot of risk associated with suddenly changing to a different service offering and we must approach with some caution especially if the new service line requires experience, a different set of technical competencies and major capital resources.
We have been discussing internally our intention to assess these requirements and determine the gaps. For us to provide engineering support in this space on any significant scale, we would certainly require some internal skill enhancement, training and collaboration with larger reputable firms that have a track record in executing renewable energy projects. There is certainly some opportunity here for smaller, agile firms like ours to join forces and tap into this niche to offer innovative solutions as part of a larger consortia. This way we leverage each other’s expertise. We are looking forward to being a part of this transition, not just in Trinidad but within the region.


KA: If we take green hydrogen facilities as an example, a technology provider would likely complete the engineering to supply the hydrogen to the plants. However, it is not simply a matter of feeding green hydrogen from an electrolysis process into the plants given their current design. We envision our expertise being applied in how the alternative source of hydrogen is incorporated into the existing downstream plants that we currently work with.
The engineering principles are the same across industries. However, there will be a learning curve to understand the challenges and risks associated with applying the principles to new systems. The challenge would be in getting the people with the right knowledge and experience to identify these risks. In Trinidad, we have a pool of people with experience in the respective engineering fields for the downstream and upstream sectors. There is an existing foundation to build the required set of competencies on.

Technology has always played a major role in engineering services. How has technology helped you to grow or optimise your operations?
CA: Since inception, our engineers and project teams have embraced the company’s advanced modelling software for their engineering designs and simulations. In the past few years, there were no groundbreaking emergent technologies as it relates to engineering and project management that we weren’t already using in some form. Our approach instead has been mastery of our current digital platforms, software and systems in a way that makes us more proficient, thereby making our clients more efficient. Our multi-disciplined teams focus on streamlining our engineering and project execution workflows with the use of these tools. By doing this, we’ve been able to shorten the time it takes to troubleshoot and provide solutions without sacrificing quality or customer experience.

KA: Reality capture tools and 3D modelling using laser scans have become one of the main mediums we use to retrieve field data in our operations. The amount of data that can be collected in an eight-hour timeframe is significantly greater than what could have been achieved previously using manual measurements. The accuracy and safety of laser-scanned measurements are also significantly higher.
It has improved our efficiency by allowing us to only model the changes that are required, identify clashes and eliminate the need for additional site visits. The visual output helps clients significantly as well, as they are better able to understand what is being presented, allowing them the opportunity to request changes upfront, rather than during the construction phase, which has negative cost implications.

Why is it important to be selective of the workforce that you employ?
CA: To evolve and thrive, all organisations must examine how they attract, hire and retain the right persons to join their teams. Engineering requires innovative thinking and sharp problem-solving skills. It’s important to have fresh ideas flowing in, from young talented minds such as those we find among our university graduates. We are proud of the fact that our workforce comprises 100% local talent. The quality of our recruits has had a direct impact on our reputation and credibility in the industry. We invest a lot of time developing and inspiring our teams so that they want to remain and grow with us.
It’s important to mention that while technical competence is crucial, during the recruitment process, we place a high weighting on individuals who can adapt and operate effectively as part of a high-functioning cohesive team. A positive team dynamic with members who connect with our shared values is crucial to the long-term success of the company.

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