Mohamed Fechkeur – President, RedMed-Group – Algeria
The president of the private leading logistics company, RedMed, explains the origins of the company, and shares his thoughts on the future of the oil and gas industry.
Can you present RedMed Group, and explain how the idea was born to create this company?
At the end of the 60s, after studies in Germany in the field of chemistry, I joined an eight-month mission to create the Algerian Institute of the Oil (IAP). I agreed, with others, to take on this challenge and launch this training institution in the oil domain. It was a very enjoyable adventure.
The creation of the Algerian institute of the Oil (IAP) took us eight months – once it was completed, I was asked to work on other activities and new projects to boost the development of the petroleum sector. We focused initially in drilling, because the country had a large deficit in this area. Work in every area of drilling was welcomed: as a result of this broad approach, Algeria eventually became a pioneer in the area of drill fittings.
Since this time, the Algerian hydrocarbons sector has grown immensely. One of the first big waves of growth came with the arrival of the international oil companies to the country, which settled around the Berkine and El Borma basins, as well as the enormous Hassi Massaoud reservoir. The living conditions in those oil regions were not easy: I asked the IAP to help guide these foreign companies to improve conditions for their workers. This is how the idea for the RedMed Group came about in 1996.
How are your services structured?
In 1998, when I took up my post with the company, foreign companies working in Algeria were not offering their employees anything in the way of services. This is why we decided to start first at Hassi Messaoud, aiming to provide services for E&P companies operating there. The companies we first targeted told us that they needed accommodation and R&R facilities: all the logistics needed to handle their back bases.
RedMed-Group therefore started work on setting up the necessary conveniences, as well as providing safety at the camps and sites. We also set up a subsidiary, Star Aviation, to provide travel services to the oil and gas industry, which we did through the acquisition of a foreign company. Today, all the flights of our two subsidiaries Star Aviation and Jet Air Sahara revolve around the Hassi Messaoud-Oued Irara international airport.
The other important activity of the group today concerns logistics. We developed a fleet of heavy vehicles specially built for desert environments, which can transport up to 1,400 tons, perfect for the oil and gas industry.
Every year, our ranges of services developed along with the industry to create solutions to operational challenges, developed in partnership with the industry. Today, our logistics department helps build sites that include accommodation, catering and other conveniences. Our capacity at our two bases in Hassi Messaoud and Adrar has been reinforced, and now we can receive up to 400 people with support in terms of accommodation, catering and occupational medicine, which are all provided by various subsidiaries of the group. Our full list of services today ranges from air transport (freight and passengers), to heavy and light transport, a catering and hotel business, training and certification of drilling, human resources for oil rigs, and safety and QHSE through our subsidiary AFMC. We have also a flying school that assures the formation of the commercial pilots for the civil aviation.
What is the future of Hassi Messaoud, the lung of the Algerian oil and gas industry, in your opinion?
Hassi Messaoud has incredible potential, and Sonatrach is today at the heart of maximizing this potential, and improving the recovery rate there. There have even been new discoveries in the basin, including at Illizi and Touat. Exploration is a priority for Sonatrach today, both in Algeria and internationally, as the company recently announced.
Human capital will be key in this development, and as a result this has become a cornerstone of our group’s strategy. Giving new recruits the necessary training will be crucial, both in soft skills (languages) and technical specialties.
How can you bring added value to your customers today?
“We are logisticians” is our credo, and our aim is always to be present with the main multinational companies settled in Algeria and in particular in the south. Furthermore, logistics has become our area of expertise. We want to continue to diversify, to answer the demands of the market, which grow stronger every year. As well as this, we want to be far-sighted enough to judge the next big developments of the oil and gas sector and be prepared for them.
You have joint ventures with several partners, including foreign companies. What is your internationalization strategy? Will RedMed one day become an international company?
We understand the importance of having solid partnerships, which include the transfer of our knowledge of Algeria to other companies, strengthening the sector in general. This also comes back to us: shared experiences can lead to innovation, which is a fundamental factor for progress.
In the years to come, RedMed will focus on training, qualification and certification of human resources, as we believe this is the key tool for doing a good job. It is a challenge for the whole country, and we are ready to take it on.