The past year has been difficult for nearly every company. How have you adapted to the pandemic, both internally and externally?
When we reflect about 2020, it was indeed a challenging year to the industry, especially while dealing with the unprecedented consequences arising from the COVID-19 pandemic that added extra stress at work and in our personal lives. At the beginning of the pandemic, I told my team that “We are going to manage this crisis better than anyone and we will recover from its effects faster than others and become stronger than before”. We have turned such aspiration into reality making 2020 one of the best years in KSA's history in terms of performance. We closed the year setting HSE positive records and we were able to sustain our business activities through the deployment of a robust business continuity plan and following the guidelines and recommendations of our Crisis Management Team in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, always aligned with the instructions given by the authorities in both countries. We anticipated the challenges and we executed an accurate plan to overcome those effectively. I am proud with the resilience and the solid performance of my team in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to obtain such achievement.
During these challenging times, we maintained a continuous engagement with our clients Saudi Aramco, Tatweer and Al-Khafji Joint Operations in our daily operations. The main focus was the safety of our employees followed by excellence in service delivery. During the peak of the pandemic, we ensured close collaboration with our clients for implementing effective measures to ensure business continuity. During the pandemic, we kept fatigue management of our employees at the top of our agenda, especially focusing in our field population who were working in tough and remote conditions. Through effective management, we secured proper accommodation and procured entertainment to our field population for making sure they were taking breaks in Saudi Arabia during the months in which they were not able to travel to their home countries. The solutions we implemented worked very well and resulted in maintaining safe business continuity in our operations while keeping our employees duly rested and motivated. Another factor that we prioritized was to find solutions to promote the good mental well-being of our employees with the implementation of support programs provided by a team of medical experts. In brief, with the implementation of effective management actions, our staff in KSA remained focused to deliver services with efficiency across all our operations, allowing us to outperform in our industry.
Saudi Arabia has advanced its IKTVA scheme in recent years, leading to something of a restructuring in the sector. You have recently opened a manufacturing facility here as a result. What does this indicate about the future of the oil services sector in the
Kingdom, and what other localization plans do you have?
Our commitment to IKTVA continued with high momentum during 2020. At the beginning of the year, we inaugurated a new manufacturing center in the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) in which we started producing downhole tools that were previously made in countries located in Asia and North America. We are proud that Schlumberger became the first tenant in SPARK and, also, the first company to produce locally manufactured oilfield tools in the park. As of today, we are already using tools manufactured in SPARK in our local operations and, also, we are developing the potential to start exporting tools from Saudi Arabia. But maybe the most important highlight from the new center is that we are training (in SPARK and in other manufacturing centers abroad) a good number of Saudi Arabian young engineers and technicians who are trained in the local manufacturing processes. This is as a clear demonstration of our commitment to localization and to the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030. In addition, we also have a Center of Reliability and Efficiency (CRE) in Dammam Modon 2 Industrial City that plays a critical role in supporting our operations in Saudi Arabia and the neighboring countries. The center hosts hundreds of our local employees that acquire specialized techniques for the maintenance of a broad variety of oilfield tools. The CRE is a state-of-the-art facility in which we give consistent maintenance to ensure reliability of Schlumberger tools that translates into superior reliability while performing services to our customers in many countries. The CRE currently hosts around 1,000 employees and more than 75% of them are Saudi nationals. The pandemic and the associated travel restrictions represented an opportunity for us to expand the responsibilities assigned to some local employees whose commitment and dedication allowed us to sustain our business while the CRE continued operating at full capacity for providing maintenance solutions that became critical to our business continuity.As many other companies and industries, we also experienced an unprecedented challenge for continuing our operations while the country was in lockdown, preventing us from bringing personnel, equipment and materials required for our operations. However, our IKTVA investments paid off during those tough days as we had (i) local staff duly trained ready to engage our operations; (ii) a strong and reliable local supplier base and; (iii) a local maintenance and manufacturing footprint that, combined, allowed us to deploy local resources to support our operations accordingly.
Saudi Arabia has pursued a technology first approach in its public policy. Does this extend to the oil and gas sector, and what technologies do you provide here?
Saudi Aramco is constantly looking to explore new frontiers, and Schlumberger is strategically positioned to offer new technologies that are tailored to fit Saudi Aramco's objective to explore new challenges and to ensure improved efficiencies in their operations. We will be celebrating this March the 15th anniversary of our carbonate research center in Dharhan. Schlumberger has historically been the undisputed leader in technology research and development in the oilfield industry, and we will continue to lead in this aspect despite the challenges the industry is facing. I am convinced this will remain a key differentiator in our industry in the years to come. In one of our integrated drilling projects, we used a DrillPlan® well construction planning solution combined with DrillOps®, our automation and orchestration well delivery solution, to achieve consistent and faster drilling rates, reducing costs, and capturing contractual performance incentives. In a recent operation, adoption of this technology allowed us to drill 8.5% faster than planned, delivering wells 5.8 days ahead of schedule.
What initiatives does Schlumberger have to create a greener tomorrow?
Schlumberger's commitment to protecting the environment has been embedded in our corporate culture for many years and we have developed a robust environment, social, and governance (ESG) program. As part of our HSE culture, we are committed to minimize our impact on the environment through pollution prevention, reduction of natural resource consumption and emissions, and the reduction and recycling of waste. In Saudi Arabia, we have lunched different environmental initiatives. To give an example, we have been collaborating with Saudi Aramco in an initiative named “Green Sites” intended to identify opportunities to reduce the environmental footprint in our field locations. The initiative has produced positive results through the implementation of goals like reducing the consumption of single-use plastics, installing solar power lighting solutions to replace diesel generators, composting organic solid residuals to be transformed into fertilizers that have been donated to public gardens and parks, among others. The success of the composting initiative allowed us to expand its reach as part of our local Social Responsibility Program in which we will be organizing awareness campaigns in some communities to educate local residents about techniques to recycle solid waste and produce their own fertilizers to be used in local farms. At a global scale, we have increased our focus on low impact technologies and Schlumberger has the ambition to secure business growth with a strong focus on sustainability throughout the energy transition. We are committed in decarbonizing our own operational footprint, as well as deploying technologies that help to reduce the oil & gas industry's emissions. Our business offering already includes investments in what we call Schlumberger's New Energy. Schlumberger New Energy explores new avenues of growth by leveraging Schlumberger's intellectual and business capital in emerging new energy markets, with a focus on low-carbon and carbon-neutral energy technologies. Its activities include ventures in the domains of hydrogen, lithium, carbon capture and sequestration, geothermal power and geo-energy for heating and cooling buildings. Last month, it was announced that LafargeHolcim and Schlumberger New Energy will explore the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) solutions. The two companies will study the feasibility of capturing carbon from two LafargeHolcim cement plants located in Europe and North America, using Schlumberger's carbon sequestration technologies. Also, back in Jan 2021, Schlumberger New Energy, the CEA and Partners announced the Formation of Genvia a clean Hydrogen Production Technology venture.