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Interview

Emil Helmi – Country Manager, ABS, Indonesia

The country Manager of ABS Indonesia describes how ABS is focusing their research and development efforts on anticipated future market developments; thereby negating the effects of the drop in commodity prices and consequent slowdown in maritime activity. Furthermore, he highlights the strong developments the Indonesian education system has made in recent decades, thus providing highly employable Indonesian graduates to ABS’s operations in Indonesia.

What is the significance of the oil and gas industry to ABS Indonesia?

The oil and gas industry makes up roughly 40 percent of our work in terms of volume. Therefore, it is unquestionably significant to ABS in Indonesia; unfortunately we are currently witnessing a downturn, as the maritime industry is directly linked to the oil and gas industry which has been negatively impacted by the recent landslide in commodity prices.

Despite the aforementioned downturn, we look forward to opportunities arising in this segment as we are confident that the oil and gas segment will overcome current challenges, thus we are anticipating future needs and demands and are preparing solutions. We have a research and development (R&D) team in Singapore collaborating with the Singaporean maritime and port authority focusing on innovative solutions for offshore natural gas vessels, terminals and storage solutions as this is will continue to be an important component of the market going forward.

Research is significant as it is the core of our business model. We are investing in projects that target present and future challenges alike with the goal to incorporate our knowledge into ABS Rules and Guides. Appropriate research is our way of ensuring significance and practicality to our clients!

ABS is the worldwide leader in its market segment with a strong presence in South East Asia. What is Indonesia contributing to this success?

Indonesia, as the largest archipelago in the world, fourth most populous country in the world and largest economy by GDP in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has always been a key market for us in the region. Through our longstanding commitment to Indonesia, we have established close ties to stakeholders within the government and their policies in order to understand the future direction of the country and its directorate regarding the industries we serve. For instance, Indonesia’s government recently initiated the Blue Print initiative, which articulates the ambition to revolve its energy mix by 2017 with gas foreseen to supply 60 percent of domestic energy consumption.

This initiative will even further develop the offshore gas segment and have significant impact on the needs surrounding LNG carriers of various types such as floating storage units (FSU), floating production storage and offloading units (FPSO) and floating storage and regasification units (FSRU). In addition to FSRUs, innovative storage solutions as well as new LNG terminals will be required. We are keen to support this development with the know-how and experience gathered and applied in our global operations.

How significant is R&D to ABS’s global operations and for remaining the market leader in its segment?

We understand that the market and its technology will always evolve, and requirements will change. The current market outlook has slowed down, but we are not standing by. We are preparing for when it picks up again, investing in R&D that will enable us to have the right capabilities when the market needs them. The significance our R&D programs have is evidenced by the vast number of projects. In 2015, there were nearly 200 technical R&D projects under way, with a focus ranging from subsea operations asset performance, harsh environment operations, environmental sustainability, and the usage of future fuels; to just name a few.

Our commitment to enhancing the global know-how surrounding our segment is not limited to R&D but includes continuous commitment towards maritime academies, universities and close partnerships with academic institutions to support ongoing curriculum modernization that contributes to the sustainability of the whole sector.

Liquid natural gas (LNG) seems to be the next hot topic for the Indonesian hydrocarbon industry. How does ABS position itself in this area?

As we identified gas to be an important component in the future of the energy industry, we formed the ABS Global Gas Solution team which offers guidance across the full range of gas related shipping projects for both marine and offshore projects. The services we offer include but are not limited to specification reviews, risk and hazard assessments, and project management and feasibility studies. The ABS Global Gas Solutions team has served numerous clients across a broad range of disciplines from LNG carriers to floating LNG, contributing to the reputation established over decades of pioneering technical work that supports innovation in gas transport and the use of gas fuel.

The maritime industry continues to develop towards the use of LNG as fuel as a way of meeting emissions regulations and to improve efficiency. ABS has positioned itself as a market leader as we continue to grow our orderbook with a significant number of new build LNG vessels slated for ABS class.

Success in business needs well educated and trained staff. Recruiting the right staff can be a challenge in some countries. In this context, how do you assess the talent pool available in Indonesia?

With a population of 250 million, Indonesia is the fourth largest country by population in the world. The educational system has developed tremendously in the past several years, and graduates from the educational institutions offering maritime and engineering courses are well equipped with knowledge suitable to start a career at ABS. The developments in the educational sector benefit additionally from the governmental support, which was the result of government efforts to support the maritime industry.

At ABS, we make a point of engaging and developing our staff in order to exhibit employer loyalty and ensure integration into the ABS culture. Personal development of our staff is of upmost significance. It is the reason we offer unique programs for our staff to learn and develop themselves. Our technical staff, for instance, benefit from on-the-job training in diverse environments as we rotate them through ABS projects around the world. This incentivizes staff who seek international experience and ensures knowledge transfer within the global ABS network.

We also make it a point to be as transparent as possible to our staff regarding development, growth and future plans in order to actively engage them with the company’s progress. We have designed a special talent management system, focusing on high performers ensuring adequate leadership and management roles for their future and support them in relocating if required.

Personally, I make it a point to strive for excellent leadership; my employees and I trust each other completely. I am committed to their wellbeing and to providing support. In return, I get motivated, loyal and high performing staff who form a team that I am very proud to lead.

In a nutshell, how does ABS differentiate itself from the competition?

Great class services and innovative technology! The latter is the foundation which enables us to provide excellent delivery to our partners and clients. We are class-centric in our focus, which differentiates us from our competition. Additionally, investments in tools and systems that help us remaining the leading provider of classification services are a priority to us. This intense focus on R&D as well as providing leading solutions and global best practices to satisfy our clients’ needs is what differentiates ABS.

Click here to read more articles and interviews from Indonesia, and to download the latest free oil and gas report on the country.

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