TBY talks to Amir Rostami Safa, Managing Director of SAFA Rolling & Pipe Mills Co., on its contributions to job creation, why it is diversifying upstream segments, and taking advantage of huge domestic opportunities.

Amir Rostami Safa
Amir Rostami Safa was appointed Managing Director of SAFA Rolling & Pipe Mills Co. in February 2017. He is the founder and joint partner in several successfully run ventures, including Ferdous Petro Ahan Co., a leading supply and service provider in the oil and gas industry; Atlas Offshore Co., an EPC contractor for the fabrication and installation of offshore jack ups and rigs; Offshore Engineering; Caspian North Co., a trading company for steel trade commodities; and Petroferro Co., the global operations management company of the holding group. He holds an MBA and is fluent in English, Italian, French, and Farsi.

How do you assess SAFA Rolling & Pipe Mills Company's contribution over the past 25 years?

In terms of macroeconomic data, we have contributed to Iran's economic growth in three different ways. One of them is employment—we have created around 1,500 jobs. We have also immersed ourselves in high magnitude investments in the downstream oil and gas industry. The same goes for the steel industry, for which we produce the highest quality using state-of-the-art technology. The third is the economic value of SAFA Rolling & Pipe Mills. The 2015 GDP figure of Iran was USD425 billion, of which around 40% was comprised by the industrial sector. With our production capacity of around 1 million tons, our contribution to Iran's GDP is roughly USD1 billion, which means our contribution to the industrial share of GDP is more than 0.5%.

What competitive advantages do you have?

We are among the few companies that have been evaluated by international companies and have been approved as their vendors because of our technical know-how and quality. This is our biggest current advantage. We also have excellent research and marketing abilities and positive credit ratings in the financial sector. Financially, we are healthier than our competitors in Iran. Also, we are experienced in outsourcing raw materials with steel mills in Europe, China, South Korea, and Japan. We have managed to establish and maintain supply channels with our dedicated supply sourcing policies.

How do you improve your technology and increase the variety of steel products you produce?

SAFA Rolling is the result of a diversification strategy within SAFA Industrial Group. We sought more diverse applications than only the oil, gas, and energy segments. Hence, we expanded and diversified our products into different applications, particularly for upstream segments. We have added value by producing, for example, OCTG casing and tubing pipes, a unique and high value-added product for drilling applications. Next to this, we are targeting refineries and petrochemical plants, surface facilities, field developments, offshore projects, LPG/LNG/NGL plants, pump stations, water treatment desalination projects, and trunk and flow lines.

In which infrastructural projects are you currently involved?

In order for the country to expand its pipeline infrastructure and networks, there need to be 40,000km of new pipelines in both upstream and downstream. These include offshore subsea sour gas transmission, onshore networks, refineries, NGL, LPG and LNG plants, field developments and surface facilities, and crude oil trunk and flow lines.

What is your post-sanctions strategy?

The world's demand for energy is increasing by roughly 2% annually. It is essential to have a reliable energy supplier that can provide sustainable and affordable energy. Therefore, as the holder of the world's largest gas reserves and ranked fourth in oil production, Iran is boosting exploration and development of both. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has developed a new scheme called Iranians Petroleum Contracts (IPC), a modified form of the 'buy back scheme' that offers additional incentives to investors. Combined with political stability, this will create a safe environment for international companies to invest in Iran's hydrocarbon fields. About 90% of our products still go to the oil and gas industry. We also have capacity dedicated to other segments, such as the automotive and construction segments; however, this is still relatively small. The government has articulated a plan to attract around USD25 billion of investment in the oil and gas sector annually, and by 2025 the aggregate investments shall be USD200 billion.

Which markets do you currently supply, and what is your strategy to grow your global footprint?

Based on our positive outlook for Iran, we are focusing on the domestic market for now. We seek market niches that cannot be reached by our competitors. This will help us to outmaneuver the competition and become the number one player in the energy sector.