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Interview

Sameh Hussein – Country Director and General Manager (Egypt, Libya, South Sudan), Baker Hughes, Egypt

Sameh Hussein, country director for Egypt, Libya and South Sudan at Baker Hughes, discusses his first impressions of his home country when he returned in September 2016; the innovative solutions Baker Hughes is adapting to Egypt; the long tradition of partnership they have with Egypt’s oil and gas industry dating back to 1910; and his outlook for the organization in Egypt in 2020.

Mr. Sameh, you started your career with Baker Hughes in Egypt around two decades ago, and in September 2016, you returned as country director for Egypt as well as Libya and South Sudan. What were your first impressions of the market here?

“Our biggest differentiator is our technology and services, as well as the breadth and depth of that portfolio.”

I am fortunate to have spent the first eleven years of my career in Egypt, moving on to take numerous international assignments, and finally, returning to Egypt at a pivotal moment for the industry in Egypt and the wider region. Due to my background, I have a deep understanding of the Egyptian market and as a result, I have been able to readjust quickly to my responsibilities as country director here, managing the overall business as well as the strategic projects being undertaken here.

Strategically, Egypt is a very important market for Baker Hughes. We have a rich history in this country: it was our drill bit that was used to drill the first well in 1910. Over the past century, we have grown our footprint significantly by tapping into the local talent pool, expanding our product lines and service portfolio here, and learning from past projects.

As a country, Egypt has embarked on a very exciting journey with many opportunities for a company like Baker Hughes. This has been triggered by a number of things, including the recent gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, the economic reforms being implemented and the overall vision of the political leadership. There is a lot of engagement at all levels of the country, which is really promising from the perspective of a service provider like Baker Hughes. Fundamentally, our role is to serve as a strategic partner to our customers and other industry stakeholders to help overcome any operational challenges to develop the reserves in their countries as economically as possible.

As the fall in oil prices has hit oilfield service providers all over the world, how is Baker Hughes in Egypt working to become fit-for-fifty, especially considering that Egypt is already a very cost-conscious country?

We provide technology and service solutions geared towards helping our customers build better wells, optimize production and increase ultimate hydrocarbon recovery. Our approach has been validated by a number of our customers, who value the steps we have taken to improve efficiencies under tough market conditions.

The question our customers have is what value they will get from our cutting-edge technology. We gain a clear understanding our customers’ needs and problems and collaborate with them to find a solution.

Egypt does have a low-cost model, which simply means we need to work harder to communicate the merits of our collaborative, value-driven approach, not just to our current customers but to all industry stakeholders in Egypt. This also underscores our intention to build long-term partnerships in Egypt.

Having met with many of your counterparts all around the world, we have heard that innovation is truly at the core of Baker Hughes. What innovations are you bringing to Egypt?

We are very fortunate to be able to offer the entire portfolio of Baker Hughes here in Egypt, which enables us to offer integrated services and solutions to our customers here. Baker Hughes has a very strong track record in Egypt for our drilling and completions portfolio, so we are well-placed to assist with the recent spate of activity in the Mediterranean. There is a huge role for Baker Hughes to support the mega offshore gas projects currently being undertaken in Egypt.

For instance, in 2013, Baker Hughes drilled the first deepwater horizontal well in the Mediterranean in what was an extremely difficult environment using the AutoTrak rotary steerable system, and completed the well with unique sand control completion using gravel and frac pack systems, downhole technologies and logging-while-drilling (LWD) offerings, offering the full solution to the customer .

Most recently, we drilled six wells in the Mediterranean for a customer, with zero non-productive time (NPT), using our AutoTrak drilling system. This success prompted the operator to use the AutoTrak system to drill the rest of that project. Ultimately, offshore and particularly deepwater projects are expensive, and NPT translates into costs, so the client really understood the value that we brought.

In terms of oil, Baker Hughes is known in the industry for its production enhancement portfolio, which is especially critical in a country like Egypt with very mature fields and rapidly falling production. We have provided artificial lift services for a client in the West Nile Delta on a challenging project where the surface area available for the injection of water was very limited. This was through deploying our ‘power pump’ log technology, including the use of FLEXPump™. This is how we adapt our portfolio to fit our customers’ needs on the ground. We are a strong proponent of the value of restoring and enhancing oil production.

Regardless of whether we are working on oil or gas, our approach is to offer the full set of solutions to our clients. At the end of the day, this is what they are looking for.

Many of your global competitors are present in Egypt as well, and there are also many local oilfield service providers. How do you ensure that Baker Hughes remain competitive?

Our biggest differentiator is our technology and services, as well as the breadth and depth of that portfolio. As we have discussed, Baker Hughes bring innovative technology to the table to meet our customers’ needs. What we are also very proud of is the way we maintain strong partnerships with our customers. This close collaboration helps us anticipate their needs and react quickly to meet them.

We are also very focused on upstream process safety, which is especially relevant in Egypt due to the high-risk nature of offshore and deepwater operations. We are recognized as a driver of upstream process safety across all elements: technology, equipment and personnel. Recently, a major operator in Egypt selected the Baker Hughes DeepShield safety valve, the first industry V1-validated subsurface safety valve, for an offshore gas project.

Baker Hughes is currently involved with several key projects in Egypt. We support our customers from planning through execution. We focus on reliable delivery – not just bringing equipment and technology into the country and pre-planning, but the actual implementation.

How has Baker Hughes contributed to the development of nationals within the oil and gas industry in Egypt?

As I mentioned, I started my career here in Egypt so I have firsthand experience of the training and development opportunities that Baker Hughes offers. We are committed to hiring and developing local talent. Through our global presence, our employees have an opportunity to continue their professional development in a variety of roles and locations.

While we have significant local content here, we continue to leverage global expertise for knowledge transfer and continued development.

As more investors look towards Egypt, what advice might you have for them, as an Egyptian that has worked extensively abroad and returned to Egypt fairly recently?

The key is to really engage with the country and observe the reality of things on the ground rather than relying on secondhand accounts. Potential investors should come to Egypt to assess the opportunities available for their companies there. There have been positive developments and momentum is building but companies need to decide for themselves where exactly they fit within Egypt and where exactly Egypt fits within the company’s operations.

Specifically for oil and gas companies, Baker Hughes is here to be a partner.

In light of Baker Hughes’ long history in Egypt, moving forward, how important will Egypt continue to be for the overall organization?

Egypt is important to Baker Hughes globally for a number of very strategic reasons.. First, Egypt has a unique and diverse portfolio in terms of ongoing projects so it is a good venue for resource development, whether in terms of personnel or technology. There are still projects going on, which is always important.

Secondly, we want to continue to build on the long partnership we have had with Egypt and the wider region. Politically, geographically and logistically, Egypt is a critical country. Baker Hughes has been here for a long time and we are committed to this region.

There is huge growth potential and excitement building up here so I hope to be able to help Baker Hughes capitalize on this. By 2020, I expect to see Baker Hughes in the excellent position of being a true partner and providing value-added solutions to its customers here.

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