The Business Year

Stephen James Woods

SAUDI ARABIA - Energy & Mining

Green Thinking

General Manager, Huta Environment


Stephen J. Woods is an experienced management professional of 36 years in engineering and construction project management, risk management, project controls, and cost management in diversified fields such as marine sciences, civil construction infrastructure projects, and environmental sciences. He attended Glasgow College between 1970 and 1973 to study Civil Engineering.

TBY talks to Stephen James Woods, General Manager of Huta Environment, on the company's expansion plans, challenges, and the role of the private sector.

What are some of the opportunities within the environment sector that Huta Environment will expand into?

Opportunities within the environmental sector are diverse, ranging from various renewable energy sources to the regeneration of fragile ecosystems. Huta Environment has now designed and patented a system called “Eden Reef Blocks.” This is an artificial reef establishment method that will regenerate reef areas that have been degraded due to marine development and various point and non-point sources of pollution. The results of this application to date have been amazing considering the short period of time from its implementation. The latest assessments conducted show a complete restoration of the marine ecosystem. In addition, we are venturing into renewable energy and are currently sourcing areas within the Kingdom with our European partner, Community Wind Power, with the intention of developing wind farms on a commercial scale.

What are some of the challenges that you have here that are specific to Saudi Arabia?

The prime challenge within Saudi Arabia from an environmental perspective is the unique Red Sea aquatic ecosystem. The conservation of marine protected areas, especially the endemic species and their habitats will ensure the diversity and abundance of the Red Sea coastal and marine ecosystems.

What role should be private sector play to address the environmental needs and concerns of the country?

The private sector has a major role to play in order to address the environmental needs and concerns, by implementing training and awareness programs. There have been major improvements, under the guidance of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME), with emission levels and various other sources of pollution greatly reduced. With continued input from the private sector by way of in-house training and awareness programs, further improvements can be achieved.

How would you characterize the current level of awareness in the private sector for foreign investors regarding investment opportunities related to environmental protection?

The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment has an extensive awareness program that provides all-encompassing opportunities to the private sector. There are currently numerous ongoing environmental protection programs in Saudi Arabia. The majority of those are implemented by PERSGA, King Abdul Aziz University, The Saudi Environmental Society, and Marine Science College King Fahd University of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. The Gulf Environmental Forum, held annually in Saudi Arabia, provides the ideal platform.

Do you see the local market as being large enough to sustain growth for Huta Environment, or are you thinking of expanding outside of the Kingdom as well?

The continual local market growth within the Kingdom provides Huta Environment with continuous growth opportunities. We have recently established offices in the Eastern Province in order to ensure that we maintain our professional standards to clients in the region. Expansion outside of Saudi Arabia started in 2014 with offices in Egypt, Bahrain, and Qatar, and we are currently reviewing opportunities in South Africa and Morocco.

Can you elaborate on the types of projects that you are involved in the country right now or that you would like to be involved with?

Our innovative approach and tailored service and advice on site-specific issues has established our presence as pioneers in the field of environmental impact assessment studies. Our in-house knowledge and our diverse pool of skills are well known within the local and international markets. The types of projects to which we provide custom-made solutions are sourced from both the public and private sector. Huta Environment, a pioneer in environmental rehabilitation and restoration of coastal resources, recognizes the importance of mangroves in the ecosystem of the Kingdom.

What is your vision over the next 10 years for Huta Environment?

Considering the current dramatic impacts of global warming and climate change, Huta Environment is structured to provide sustainable development strategies to our clients. With our current involvement in renewable energy, wind and solar, it is our intention to develop this capability within the Kingdom and provide an eco-friendly environment.

For the remainder of 2015, what expectations and targets do you have that you hope to accomplish?

We are currently constructing a medical waste treatment facility in Riyadh, which will provide the latest technology in the treatment of medical waste, using the ecosteryl microwave system. This will be fully operational in November 2015. Ecosteryl feasibility studies are currently ongoing in Jeddah and Dammam with the intention of expanding our capability by year-end.



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