A MAJOR EPC PLAYER

Abu Dhabi 2019 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ahmed Al Dhaheri, CEO of NPCC, on its major project in India, working in renewables, and appealing to a new generation of Emiratis.

Ahmed Al Dhaheri

What is the significance of the contract for the Ratna field, and what does this mean for overall UAE-India relations?

India is truly a core market for NPCC—we have been executing projects in India for past 35 years, amounting to USD2.6 billion. India was never really impacted by the recent industry downturn, as India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) continued to spend CAPEX on projects, so it has always provided us stability. The importance of this is also reflected in our in-country capabilities and workforce. We have two engineering companies: NPCC Engineering Limited (NEL), which has been operating for the past 10 years with around 250 employees, and ANEWA, which we acquired in 2016 and for which we recently inaugurated a new, 40,000-sqft office in Hyderabad with over 450 employees. All these demonstrate the strength of our relationship with ONGC, nurtured throughout the different projects as partners. The latest project, Ratna R-Series, is valued around USD327 million. It consists of five new unmanned wellhead platforms as well as five jackets, nine segments of pipeline with total length of 140km of various sizes, five segments of composite cables with a total length of 63km, and modifications at two existing platforms.

How do you seek to position NPCC within the current trends of the energy sector?

Sector-wise, we have historically focused on upstream, whether it is onshore or offshore. However, the strategy launched in 2017 seeks for NPCC to be a leader in the broader energy sector, and not only upstream or oil and gas. This implies both a vertical and horizontal expansion within the industry. On the one hand, we seek to strengthen our position in the onshore sector to eventually enter into downstream. On the other hand, we are looking at renewables, especially in the form of offshore wind farms. The country places a great deal of importance on renewables, and the plan is to support this direction. 2018 seems to be a healthy year for NPCC, and hopefully there is more to come. All the plans announced by ADNOC in the UAE, KOC in Kuwait, and Aramco in Saudi Arabia, will require current players to step up and provide support.

What is your opinion on ADNOC's in-country-value (ICV) program to energize the private sector?

This is truly a strategic move, and given the importance of ADNOC in the UAE's economy, it will have knock-on effects on other industries beyond oil and gas and become a standard for anyone seeking to do business in the country. It allows for a level playing field and for players to invest in the country's economy. We saw different waves of companies, coming first from Korea and then China, that did not really add much value to the local economy. ICV will also help develop human resources and skills within the country, as well as new industries. For example, today's downstream industry is not truly at the level the country expected to be, though through the ICV it will also flourish.

What is the key to help young people understand the specialized needs of the industry?

Although the new generation is extremely well educated, developing human capital is crucial, since the contracting business may not sound too appealing to young graduates. However, we have almost 300 young Emiratis within the company and target 550 by the end of 2021. We seek to do this by stating clearly what their role will be and giving them the right training and career development programs, while at the same time working on succession planning. We identify potential successors and equip them with the right skills to enable them to hit the road running and fill the target position without any issues. The relevance of these developments is showcased in the field of innovation, where young Emiratis were empowered to express their ideas and engaged in real projects, some of which were developed with a technology provider specifically for our use, when we developed an IP.