Can you describe the success of the Az Zour North One project in Kuwait?
The Shamal Az Zour project started in 2013 and was ENGIE's first major project in Kuwait following the business model of the IWPP in the GCC. The project's construction fit well within the planned timeline and original budgets. The biggest challenge in dealing with a PPP is integrating all stakeholders and having everyone involved and aligned on the project's success. A project of this size in a new country was never going to be simple; however, the overall execution was successful as a result of a strong relationship with the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW), and we are confident our stakeholders are satisfied with the current progress in Kuwait and the performance of our private partners. After this success, we decided to continue collaborating with the state of Kuwait and opened a new office in the country to develop our portfolio of all our services, including facility management, energy efficiency, LNG terminal O&M, and other hybrid and renewable plants.
What initiatives is ENGIE implementing to be more efficient in its operations in terms of risk and cost?
In a project of that structure, we need to optimize on the construction costs, which entails finding the right EPC company and having the right risk profile. Second, we need competitive financing (international & local). Finally, one must meet the efficiency and operational excellence, and this is where ENGIE is able to mobilize key personnel from other countries, especially from the GCC. We can move many engineers and experts and attract people from Saudi, Oman, and the UAE for a specific project. This is what are clients are willing to guarantee by employing us. We cannot just rely on importing the brand of ENGIE alone; we have to commit to the process and resources, and this is what we do throughout both the construction and operational phases. However, where we struggle more is in integrating female engineers into our workplace, and this is something we are actively working on improving.
How can ENGIE actively participate in the shift away from the oil economy?
ENGIE has pledged to the state of Kuwait that for every project it bids on, no matter if it is facility management for energy efficiency projects, it will always establish key positions for local engineers and technicians. We know the workers and the environment extremely well; we are close to the Kuwaiti society of engineers and also meet regularly with the technical colleges. Our relationships with these groups are important for us. We also strongly believe in training centers and recently had a pilot project for green mosques to reduce a building's consumption. We developed this project to demonstrate something that does not exist in the country, and eventually we will be able to further expand this philosophy in Kuwait. Under this scheme, we identified the public entities and technical departments that can learn from that experience, and we eventually convinced other facility owners to get on board.
What specific strategies are you most excited about for the coming year?
We have many companies and other niche services in Engie group, and as solution provider, our local team are currently working on Facility Management, but other good examples are our colleagues working on Riyadh metro systems, or smart metering systems in GCC. One of the largest projects that we would like to develop further is the activity of district cooling, following our acquisition of 40% of Tabreed, and we have an ambitious development plan for the GCC. Unfortunately, Kuwait is the only country where Tabreed has no project at the moment, and we hope to see this change in the foreseeable future.