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Interview

Hisham Alami – General Manager for Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals, Mott MacDonald, Abu Dhabi

Hisham Alami

Hisham Alami, general manager for oil, gas and petrochemicals in Abu Dhabi, discusses Mott MacDonald’s 50-year involvement in the country’s oil and gas industry, the consultancy’s various PMC projects with the ADNOC group of companies and the outlook through 2016.

What have been your main initiatives since the organization started in the UAE?

Mott MacDonald has been present in the UAE for more than 50 years and I have been at the company for over 13 years. We have worked on various large-scale projects in the oil and gas industry, as well as projects in non-oil and gas industries such as transportation, power and water. In the UAE we have worked on many major and iconic projects, such as the first phase of Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Palm Jumeirah Monorail, the Emirates Float Glass Plant, and Abu Dhabi’s Surface Transport master plan. We are a multidisciplinary consultancy and oil and gas represents approximately 10% of our overall portfolio, which means we are able to provide a broad range of skills and knowledge to Abu Dhabi and the wider Middle East region.

Where does Mott MacDonald’s portfolio in oil and gas stand today?

Mott MacDonald offers a plethora of services in the oil, gas and petrochemicals sectors. In the Middle East, I manage our Abu Dhabi offices and also lead our oil, gas and petrochemicals operations in Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq. We are project management consultants on mega projects such as Takreer’s Ruwais Refinery Expansion, the seven-year North East Bab Phase III development project and ADMA-OPCO’s Lower Zakum 100 MBD programme, which won Offshore Project of the Year at the 2012 Oil & Gas Middle East Awards.

In Abu Dhabi we have been particularly busy, with various project management consultancy (PMC) commissions on major engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects. We offer a broad range of services, from basic engineering through to engineering, procurement and construction management services. Operating companies with large PMC jobs require project management consultancy to ensure integrated work with clients.

Other projects we’ve been involved in include providing engineering services to the Sharjah Pipeline Company for a jet fuel storage facility in the Hamriyah Free Zone and a 41km pipeline linking the new development to Sharjah International Airport. This US$13 million project provided the necessary infrastructure to support the Emirate of Sharjah’s aviation industry. More recently, we were commissioned on a class III petroleum storage terminal facility in Fujairah for Gulf Petrochem. We provided engineering and PMC services on this US$110 million project, which was the UAE national winner at the 2013 MEED Quality Awards. We are also working with the Japanese-based ADOC on two projects.

With oil prices at an all time low, what do you expect to keep you busy through 2016?

Low oil and gas prices have affected the entire industry and we are no exception. However because we have a large amount of projects that have carried over from last year we expect to remain busy finalising these through 2016. We are also bidding for new projects, however, because there are delays it will remain a competitive business landscape throughout 2016. After years of experience in the oil and gas industry, it is my personal belief that prices will remain low through 2016 and will take a while to increase significantly. Nonetheless, we will adapt accordingly.

What makes Mott MacDonald unique in light of today’s competitive landscape?

Our clients are fully aware of our capabilities and expertise and understand the values of Mott MacDonald. We have been in the UAE for many years and have worked on landmark projects which have enabled us to become a trusted name in the region. We have large companies who call and ask for employees by name and our core team in Abu Dhabi is renowned for following strict safety guidelines, meeting deadlines, and supporting clients throughout the region.

What is Mott MacDonald doing to help ensure ADNOC and its group of companies reach their targets?

We are exploring asset management, which is currently an important area for our clients because when prices go down, oil companies typically go back to brownfields to enhance their recovery from existing fields. We want to support the ADNOC group of companies achieve their target production of 3.5 million barrels per day by 2020. It is evident that Abu Dhabi is one of the most exciting places to be involved in the oil and gas industry and those of us in the region are ambitious to reach higher gas production levels.

Our experts are placed in our local offices and are exclusively involved in projects in the UAE because we are committed to ensuring the nation reaches its targets.

We are also actively growing our advisory services business where we offer strategic planning, transaction support, and technical advisory to governments, lending agencies, energy companies, financial institutions, and project developers. Our ongoing advice is instrumental in determining the success of multi-million dollar developments, bringing improved economics, schedule, quality and safety.

What new and innovative projects is Mott Mac Donald currently involved in?

We are conducting a conceptual study on behalf of ADCO for the Bab field. ADCO intends to replace 600 million standard cubic feet per day of gas currently being injected for recovery in the BAB field with nitrogen supplied from Mirfa. Additionally, we carried out FEED engineering for the injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) into ADCO’s Bab field as a pilot project. Using CO2 in this way will play a major part in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. We are also currently the PMC for EPC CO2 projects Bab & Neb field and working with GASCO at the Habshan field, providing engineering and procurement services for a new system that will recover gas that would be normally flared during routine shutdown operations. We hope that these commissions will lead to more CO2 projects with the likes of GASCO, ZADCO and ADGAS.

Where would you like to see the company in five years time?

One of our targets in the coming years is to enter the Saudi market and play a greater role in larger onshore and offshore projects. After 50 years in Abu Dhabi our oil and gas business has now grown a global footprint in North America, Canada, South America, Africa and Asia, as well as maintaining a strong core and focus on the Middle East.

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