The Middle East region is considered as one of Atkins’ core areas of operation and the firm’s energy business CEO, Martin Grant, talked exclusively to Pipeline’s Julian Walker about coping with low oil prices and how the company sees great opportunities as the energy sector continues to diversify in the region.
Q. What expertise are you bringing to the region?
Atkins has been in the Middle East since the 1970s so we have outstanding local knowledge of the market and environment, coupled with a highly talented and highly skilled global workforce. Our experienced technical leaders have unparalleled knowledge of the oil and gas assets – in the North Sea for example some of our team worked on the original designs for structures which they are now helping to decommission.
In oil and gas, Atkins designs and engineers fixed and floating production facilities and onshore facilities, including LNG, pipelines and all associated infrastructure and project services.
Q: How important is the Middle East region to Atkins?
The Middle East is one of our core areas of operation so it’s very important for Atkins as a whole and for our Energy business. The Middle East is a growth area and we are continuing to win new work here and expand our business.
Q: What are your major projects in the region – what is your business outlook for the coming year?
In the oil and gas sector, we are finding a growing focus on asset management, an area where we have vast experience from our work in the North Sea, as companies look to extend the life of the assets they currently have. The need to reduce operating costs, as a consequence of a lower oil price, is also driving demand for our advanced engineering skills and lifecycle expertise.
We are working on projects across the Middle East energy sector for clients including ADMA-OPCO, ENEC and Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company (HDEC). As well as the oil and gas part of our business, we have a dynamic power and renewables business, as well as a 2,000 strong global nuclear business that are working on some significant projects in the region, including the UAE’s commercial nuclear reactor, and on an energy management programme at Dubai Airport.
Q: Are you looking to expand your operations in the region?
Our Energy teams are largely based in the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah), but Atkins has offices across the region and our mandate includes Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as a prime focus area. Our global clients include oil majors such as Shell and BP – we support their operations wherever they are in the region. We are also actively pursuing opportunities in north and east Africa.
Q. How important is collaboration for Atkins?
Collaboration is very important for Atkins and we have lots of examples of where different parts of the business have worked together on projects all around the world. Airports are an example where all the skills of Atkins come together – heavy civils, building design, traffic management, fuelling facilities, control and communications, and energy management to name a few.
Q. How is Atkins adapting to the new energy landscape?
We are looking at helping our clients adapt in the Middle East and around the world. Our oil and gas business is all about optimising safety, spend and production, helping our clients to enhance recovery from existing fields and exploit new fields. The other parts of our Energy business – power, renewables and nuclear – are all geared towards changing the way that we produce, distribute and use energy as we continue to see demand grow and a push towards a low carbon economy.
Q. What are the main energy challenges in the Middle East?
The lower oil price has inevitably had some knock-on effects but our oil and gas business has continued to perform well over the last year focussing on the services that we are really good at and making sure that we give clients outstanding value for money. We see great opportunities as the energy sector continues to diversify in the Middle East, with the growth in solar power and nuclear in particular being areas where we see potential in the future.
Q. You have won a steady stream of smaller design and consultancy projects for ADNOC - has that been important to the growth of your Middle East business?
ADNOC is one of our key clients and we’re very pleased to have been working with them for a number of years. Our structural integrity team in the UAE leads those projects with support from the global oil and gas business, and that relationship has absolutely been one of the keys to our growth in the region.
Q. Why do you think you have won a string of ADNOC projects?
Alongside our longstanding relationship, our approach to life extension enables operators like ADNOC to get the most oil and gas resource out of the field before the infrastructure needs to be replaced, adding considerable value to the asset by deferring future investment cost, as well as providing assurance of asset integrity.