We feel that Congo is one of the most stable countries in Africa. Activities have been affected, Congo fluctuates, but the presence of two major operators [Total and Eni] has enhanced stability.

Alirio RECINOS Central West Africa Manager WEATHERFORD

in figures

Employees in Congo: 134

Local employees: 110

Competition for market share

November 14, 2016

TOGY talks to Alirio Recinos, Weatherford’s managing director for Central West Africa, about the company’s recent restructuring process, its approach to strengthening local content, and future developments. Weatherford, among the world’s largest oilfield services companies, specialises in artificial lift products and production optimisation capabilities.

What have been Weatherford’s main developments in the Republic of Congo this year?
Unfortunately, there has not been much activity in Congo in 2016. We’ve accommodated our structures accordingly, not just in terms of personnel reduction, but with an overall restructuring.
This year we have been more focused on proven capabilities and technology that can be applied in production without the need for larger investments. This will allow us to ensure certain levels of production and provide clients, particularly in West Africa, with an approach to product optimisation.
We have also focused more on sharing, not only personnel, but also our capabilities and geographical knowledge. We have faced the crisis by finding ways to internally optimise costs and maintain incremental revenues.

How does Congo fit into the company’s current strategy?
As part of the major restructuring of our Africa team, we decided to centralise the regional team within one country that will provide the most stability. We feel that Congo is one of the most stable countries in Africa. Activities have been affected, Congo fluctuates, but the presence of two major operators [Total and Eni] has enhanced stability.

What are Weatherford’s main capabilities?
While Weatherford is a leading brand in artificial lifting, our portfolio is vast. Each of our programmes is composed of a proven set of technologies.
We have the luxury of a portfolio that has not been utilised as much, because of the price of oil. When prices were high, production companies focused on drilling and producing as much oil as possible, as quickly as possible.
Now that the price is one-third of what it had been two years earlier, companies have to rethink their strategy. Obviously, they have to comply with their contracted production quotas, but production will not be as intensive as it had been, and companies have less income because they are selling less. They have to focus on maintaining an acceptable level of production without a significant investment in the drilling cycle.
Still, because not many service companies have portfolios as strong as ours, we are still growing.

What solutions does Weatherford provide that can help oil companies optimise their processes?
Rather than focusing on specific technologies, it’s important to look at our management of the entire solution.
During the early stages, we gather as much information as possible about the problem, which allows us to approach it with more than one solution at a time. In some cases, you can utilise several alternative technologies in one well. However, the whole cycle must be analysed, to develop a solution that works.
To achieve this, we act as partners. Our code is well integrity services; it’s not a programme, but a concept that encompasses many processes, from early production analysis to securing a minimum level of production or, in some cases, increasing the level of production.


How would you describe competition in the oilfield services sector in Congo?
Market share is the name of the game, and that’s what we’re fighting for. Competition is tough, and nobody wants to leave.
Diversification and similar approaches can help companies compete. Some companies will increase the strain on conventional problems. Others will use alternative technologies that appeal to clients, which is where we will invest.

What is Weatherford’s approach to developing local content in Congo?
I’m proud to say that out of 134 employees in Congo, 110 are locals. Today we have around five people in management positions that are Congolese, developed from our own team. Two years ago there were none. Although we had to let a lot of people go, there was a very meticulous selection process.

What are your main objectives for 2017?
Cashflow is the most important aspect. I think we have planted the right seeds; in the second half of 2016 we are already seeing results.
Our clients recognise that we provide completion and artificial lifting, as well as services oriented toward drilling. I expect to see a stronger baseline, a greater diversity of services and an increased market share in 2017.

What is your vision for Weatherford, in terms of regional growth?
I envision a well-consolidated African division, with a proper handover to Africans. My successor has to be a well-selected, trained and coached African.
We will still utilise expats; new people always come and go when working in technology. In five years, we hope to see even more nationalisation in place and a stronger Weatherford.

For more interviews, news and market insight on Republic of Congo, please click here.

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