Per Røed, Managing Director, BMT Asia Pacific
Per Røed, Managing Director at BMT Asia Pacific, discusses the company’s role in assisting in the development of local and regional infrastructures in the Greater Singapore area, specifically its contribution to the RAPID project in Malaysia and the creation of a deepwater port in Kijing in West Kalimantan. He provides further perspective on BMT Asia Pacific’s holistic and cost-effective engineering design solution and the synergies between the seven BMT Asia Pacific offices in the region.
Having joined BMT from Maersk in 2011, what qualities or professional experiences do you feel you have gained that you feel make you suitable for your role as managing director?
Having formerly been the head of vessel new building at AP Moller-Maersk, I was fortunate enough to travel to the variety of destinations where the company had commissioned its new builds, exposing me to a great deal of international flavors and cultures. This also allowed me to gain invaluable experiences in terms of technical and commercial negotiations, as well as the management of culturally diverse teams.
In addition, my experiences in leading the design, construction and delivery of vessels to Maersk’s fleet, among others, represent a key strength which I will be carrying over into BMT Asia Pacific Pte Ltd as the company seeks to continue its steady growth in the Asia Pacific region, particularly in the areas of maritime terminal developments; specialist vessel design; shipping services; and risk consultancy.
BMT Group is an international multidisciplinary engineering, science and technology consultancy offering services to a range of industries. Could you give us an insight into the specific industries and services the Singapore affiliate offers?
BMT Group as a whole caters to three sectors: defense, transportation and energy. Our activities in the defense sector are primarily concentrated in Europe and the Americas. Transportation on the other hand encompasses commercial shipping as well as ports and terminals. Within the commercial shipping sector, BMT is focused on the more customizable, niche vessels, where our customers would often need us to start with a clean sheet of paper and develop a project from the ground up. This includes assets like high speed ferries and offshore support vessels, for instance. Similarly, on the terminals side we are primarily dedicated to the maritime aspect of the sector. This includes everything from coastal modeling, geotechnical work through to structural marine engineering and detailed design works.
In Singapore, BMT Asia Pacific Pte Ltd covers the workboat and offshore support vessel markets and a large part of our capabilities and resources are dedicated to maritime infrastructure activities covering ports and terminals as well as ship yards and power stations with respect to marine civil engineering. From the ports aspect, we have a services portfolio ranging across the entire life cycle of projects; from managing pre-feasibility studies, right through to detailed design and project management consultancy. In addition to this, we are increasing our exposure to the process risk and safety markets in the onshore and offshore oil and gas industries.
Going beyond engineering, BMT also a range of complementary services. Our colleagues in the Hong Kong office, for instance, include a strong team of economists that produce market forecast studies. We have recently dedicated much effort to leveraging that knowledge to conduct market studies on the liquids side, given Singapore’s positioning as a pricing point for regional oil trade. In doing so, we work closely with oil traders and independent terminal operators, and investors.
Hence, of the three sectors BMT Group caters to, the Singapore office address the energy and transportation sectors primarily across the Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian markets. Nevertheless, BMT’s business model is not limited to any certain geographical area. We can service our clients anywhere in the world independently or in collaboration with BMT’s international offices, depending on our clients’ requirements.
Dr. Neil Cross, Chairman of BMT Group, highlighted the company’s focus on continued growth and development. What is the strategic importance of Singapore and the region towards that goal?
The BMT Group is made up of various operating companies across the world, including about 1,500 professionals located in 60 offices in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Each of these is to some degree managed independently, formulating its own business plan and strategies. We view this as a strength since many of our subsidiaries often complement each other’s capabilities.
For the time being, the Singapore office is primarily focused on the development of local and regional infrastructures in Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia will require a great deal of investments into its ports and vessels if they are to live up to their ambitions to develop their economy. Similarly, investments in Malaysia have also been gaining traction since the recent elections and we have identified a great deal of potential for infrastructure investments there. For instance, Petronas has announced plans to invest 60-billion ringgit ($18.4 billion) into the Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Johor State, Malaysia, where BMT Asia Pacific Pte Ltd has assisted to date with concept design works for the maritime infrastructure facilities.
Further abroad, we are also exploring various opportunities together with the BMT Group of companies. For instance, Africa, with its abundance of untapped resources and limited infrastructure developments, is a continent that is deemed to present a great deal of growth potential.
Given the slew of investments in Singapore and the region, what current or future projects are you particularly excited about?
Malaysia’s RAPID project is one area in which we have invested many resources. Having already completed a concept design for the Material Off Loading Facility (MOLF), we are aiming to get involved in the FEED and detailed engineering design phases of the various jetties needed to support the RAPID development. In addition, the refinery and petrochemicals project will likely also attract independent terminal operators which will also invest in infrastructure projects in the area. We aim to capture a share of those investment opportunities and provide potential investors with high quality cost-effective solutions.
In Indonesia, the Indonesia Port Corporation (IPC) has been a key client of ours and we have recently initiated a feasibility study for a deepwater port in Kijing in West Kalimantan. The pre-feasibility study on this project was in fact carried out by our Hong Kong offices with regards to the market forecasts, master planning, and multi-user port considerations.
A number similar opportunities exist and are being worked on in the region.
How would you define BMT Asia Pacific’s strengths?
As with the rest of the BMT Group, we can provide a comprehensive knowledge base in relation to, example given, infrastructure related activities. We offer a balanced mix of civil, structural and geotechnical capabilities that are further supported by in-house master mariner and naval architecture expertise. Combined together with BMT proprietary and internationally recognized tools and software, this allows us to effectively perform mooring, hydraulic modeling, navigation simulations, marine traffic risk studies, as well as the engineering design works for maritime infrastructures. As a result, we are able to present customers with a holistic and cost-effective engineering design solution.
Singapore is said to be losing its edge in the oil and gas engineering front. As an engineering focused organization, have you experienced a shortage in talent?
The sourcing for infrastructure related engineers has not proven to be a significant challenges for us thus far. In relation to our risk related activities, the labor market has been rather tight and we have faced some challenges securing the desired level of talents. This issue is not unique to Singapore alone as we face similar challenges in Malaysia and Indonesia as well. In 2010 when we first started building up the risk team in Singapore, we started off with a single employee but have now expanded to a just under ten. We expect this trend to continue as focus on risk intensifies in the region, further driving demand for such talent upwards.
Similarly, sourcing domestic talents in the shipping sector has also been rather challenging, despite Singapore’s long standing history in the industry. For Singaporean’s, the engineering aspects of the industry seems to have lost its appeal, as newer generations look towards the finance and business industries instead. In response, the local government is certainly taking action to address the issue, headed by the MPA, the EDB, A*Star, and various academic institutions to determine how to effectively stimulate the attractiveness of the marine industry for the younger generations. Although this is an on-going process, the important thing is governments’ proactive approach to the issue which has in some way began to bear fruit. For instance, we are seeing a growing number of marine based organizations establishing research centers in Singapore.
What are your personal growth objectives for BMT Asia Pacific, particularly with regards to the energy sector?
Although transportation currently represents a majority of our current revenue stream and will remain an integral part of our operations, we have identified a great deal of growth opportunities in our energy related activities. Having established our energy activities – centered on risk and safety – in 2010 as an extension of our team in Hong Kong, we have been able to steadily gain traction in that area and we will be keen to further develop that well into the future. The energy industry represents a new challenge in terms of developing and applying our expertise, as well as a fresh source of notable revenues.