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Interview

Gerrit Jan Pieterson, General Manager, Anabeeb Services Qatar

26.05.2014 / Energyboardroom

Gerrit Jan Pieterson, General Manager for Qatar at Anabeeb Services details the process technology expertise Anabeeb has been able to bring to major projects in the country, and discusses the company’s growth alongside the oil and gas industry in Qatar.

Anabeeb a Saudi-based company. How has Anabeeb’s presence in Qatar developed over time?

Anabeeb is the subcontractor in Qatar for Mourik Holland, with whom we have had a relationship for over 40 years. Anabeeb and Mourik provide specialized services for the oil and gas industry. Anabeeb Services have had a place of business in Qatar for over 30 years. Our presence here has been aligned with the demands of the industry, which at the time of our establishment in the country were very small. Just as Qatar experienced a sudden, rapid development, so did Anabeeb. In the past, we employed approximately 50 people on our permanent staff in Doha, an area manager, and a handful of equipment. We have grown to over 600 people, with over 1,200 people in peak periods. This is ten times what we had five years ago, and we have experienced all the challenges, such as personnel training and development, that come with rapid growth. In this sense, we are lucky because we have had very close cooperation with the training department at Anabeeb Services in Saudi Arabia. All of the training facilities and expertise present at Anabeeb in Jubail we have at Anabeeb Services in Qatar as well.

What has been unique about the development of the oil and gas service industry in Qatar?

Qatar is a gold rush. Everyone is now looking for some structure and stability following the initial huge gas finds here and the subsequent rapid development of the oil and gas industry. In my opinion, overall development in Qatar is still lagging compared to the development in the oil and gas industry, although this is starting to change.

There is a contradiction in the country. It is evident if you come to Doha Industrial Area, where our offices are located. The industrial area is old, small, and not very well-maintained. It gives a very bad image. The facilities, computer and telephone lines, and infrastructure are still at the level of those of Doha 15 years ago. Ras Laffan, in contrast, is state-of-the-art—the newest of the new. It is brilliant; very well organized, maintained, and cleverly constructed. All the know-how, experience, and lessons learned around the world by the large gas companies are implemented in Ras Laffan. A lot of countries would be jealous.

I am confident that where Qatar as a country is lagging now, for example in meeting housing demands or with poor traffic conditions, has everything to do with infrastructure that is not aligned with the development of the country. It is not a lack of will or because people don’t understand, it is just because there was no time. You need time to construct.

What is the scope of Anabeeb’s services and activities in Qatar today?

Here in Qatar we offer a part of our full portfolio. Catalyst handling, industrial cleaning services and mechanical services are our major offerings. Before process installations in the oil and gas industry can be maintained or inspected, they must be emptied out and cleaned of any residue. We have a number of technologies to do this. One of our most often used is high pressure cleaning. With this technology, we use high-pressure water pumps to remove carbon residue, hydrocarbons, and any other substances left in the process installation. The inspectors can then carry out their checks and inspections. Finally, we put the plant back together and operations resume.

Another service we provide is catalyst handling. Catalysts are often metal-based and used in the gas sweetening process. After a period of time, a catalyst loses reactivity and must be changed. The problem is that during its lifecycle, the chemical composition of the catalyst changes and can become pyrophoric, meaning that if it comes in contact with normal atmosphere, it starts to heat up and can even explode. For this reason, the catalyst changing process must take place under a nitrogen blanket, in an inert atmosphere. Inert atmospheres in confined spaces are deadly to humans. Anabeeb has trained teams equipped with specialized breathing and monitoring systems that allow our people to actually climb in to the reactors, perform the mechanical work inside, and take the catalyst out, all under an inert and blanket nitrogen atmosphere.

Mourik has established a reputation as a reliable partner for the critical task of managing catalyst change-out in many of the most extensive petrochemical facilities in the world, most importantly Shell’s Pearl GTL plant in Qatar. What is your involvement working with Shell on the GTL project?

Mourik is the contract holder, and Anabeeb is the subcontractor for Mourik servicing operations. The Shell GTL plant is a highly specialized plant. Shell built 10 multi-tube reactors to process the gas phase to a liquid phase. Mourik & Anabeeb provide the catalyst handling for the plant. This is a very specialized technology and the service needs to be reliable. This is the expertise we bring to Shell.

What lessons have you learned through working with Shell?

The quality standard of Shell is very high, but so is ours at Anabeeb. When I joined Anabeeb, we had quality systems aligned to the Qatari market of 15 years ago. As a company, we needed to pick up on training, safety policies, and quality systems. The quality of our work has always been good, because our core services are dependent on this. It is the increase in the quality of our health and safety systems that has been a huge change, driven by the industry. Shell’s standards are the same all over the world, and Shell Qatar wants to be the best in the world now. We had to pull our organization up to this standard, and once again this had to be done quickly. As with the rest of the country, it has been difficult to maintain our quality standards due to fast growth. This has been our biggest challenge and something the company has had to adapt to, to become more proactive.

In a business environment full of qualified competitors what is unique about Anabeeb? What makes you stand out?

What is unique is our reliability, thanks to our availability. We are very well established and are one of the few companies that employ over 600 people on its permanent staff. That is a unique selling point in comparison to our competitors, who operate on a project basis. We have an established presence in Qatar, with our own warehouses, stores, and maintenance divisions.

Another thing that is unique for Anabeeb in Qatar is that we are ISO certified, and in November of this year (2014) we will obtain Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) certification as well, relating to the health and welfare of workers and to the safety of occupational circumstances. As a provider servicing the big, ambitious projects of companies like Qatar Petroleum, Shell, Qatar Gas or Ras Gas  we cannot lag behind in the demand for quality. These companies want to be the best in the world, with the newest plants and the newest technology. If we as a service company want to partner with them, we must become the best as well.

How do you foresee demand evolving in the coming years in the oil and gas service sector, and where do you see the biggest opportunities?

We see our biggest opportunity as the expansion of our maintenance services. I always compare what we do at Anabeeb to the maintenance of a car. When you buy a new car, its maintenance needs are relatively low. However, the longer you run it, the more maintenance it will require. This is exactly the case in the process industry. Everything in the industry in Qatar is currently very new. Anabeeb’s position in Qatar is very strong and we are one of the largest process service providers in the county. We expect that our maintenance services will be a strong source of growth in the future, as the industry in Qatar progresses in its lifecycle.

If you had five minutes with His Excellency, Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Minister of Energy, what would you like to tell him regarding Anabeeb’s  interests in supporting the growth of the Qatari oil and gas sector?

Listen to the industry. It is a very brief message. All companies in the service industry, including my friends and competitors, struggle with the same issues. Perhaps in the past, the interests of the industry were not exactly aligned with the questions the minister had for us. At the moment, there are very sharp, well-educated people in the industry. Listen to the industry. Create a platform to solve problems together.

To read more articles and interviews from Qatar, and to download the latest free report on the country, click here.

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