Monetary value of GCC Construction contracts in 2014:USD 171 billion
Estimated 2015 value of GCC Construction contracts: USD 172 billion
Maintenance necessitiesMarch 24, 2016
The UAE’ s oil and gas industry requires qualified and competitive contractors in the maintenance and construction sector. TOGY talks to head of engineering of Descon Engineering, Sayed Ali Aghfar Rizvi, about the future of maintenance projects and how contractors can innovate in this sector.
How do maintenance and construction opportunities in the UAE compare to that of other sectors in the region?
Opportunities are good in the UAE, with many ongoing projects in the country such as Abu Dhabi Gas Industries’ Integrated Gas Development Expansion Project and processing of offshore crude. Companies should choose the projects they bid on carefully. The UAE offers many more maintenance job opportunities than Qatar, but Abu Dhabi has had a dip in construction activities in the past few years. Hydrocarbons companies and the government are considering many projects, but most greenfield projects are still in pre-feasibility or front-end engineering and design (FEED) stages.
What skills and competencies does someone working on a maintenance project need compared to a construction project?
During periods of lower capital expenditure and fewer construction projects, many individuals expect to find work in the maintenance sector. However, engineering companies struggle to find competent personnel from the construction sector who can perform. When executing a maintenance job, employees work in a live environment. Welding next to a live crude pipeline carries significant risks both to the personnel on the job and the client’ s assets. Most operators in the UAE will request the names of engineers assigned to such jobs and review their maintenance experience before permitting them access to a brownfield environment. For a large project, a client would ask for eight to 10 years of experience in brownfield or live plant environment.
How important is it for companies in the maintenance and construction sectors to retain experienced staff?
Experience is important for engineering companies operating in the maintenance sector. Over time, a company will develop certain practices, norms and specifications. Maintenance jobs require that people work on a particular function for years and develop a deep level of expertise and norms in their area. Engineer dispatch to the site is especially important for maintenance jobs involving damaged or failed equipment that the typical maintenance remit does not cover. Unlike construction projects, maintenance projects require an engineer to go to the project site, inspect the job and provide feedback. Companies that have a significant market share can develop technical teams because they have multiple jobs in hand. Keeping engineers engaged in maintenance jobs to increase their level of experience and helping them recognise their development as sector experts are good methods for retaining staff. Companies can achieve this by aligning their maintenance jobs with construction work, and in that way they can always keep their staff mobilised and engaged.
What kinds of job opportunities do plant upgrades offer in the UAE?
Shutdowns and retrofit jobs take place because assets are ageing and facilities require repairs. FEED and maintenance work can be integrated into these jobs if one contractor can deliver all the services involved, reducing the servicing period by five or six months. This consolidation of contractor responsibility is possible because maintenance jobs are smaller than greenfield projects, and their contracts range between $1 million and $15 million. In the future, it is possible that FEED and engineering, procurement and construction stages could be integrated for maintenance work.
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