with John Sanins, Solutions Executive for Bentley Systems Oil and Gas, Bentley Malaysia & APAC
Bentley operates in many different businesses. What is the importance of Malaysia to your company?
Alan Savin: In terms of our ranking in South East Asia, we take into account stability, the number of projects, the availability of trained personnel, and so on. Malaysia ranks as the number one investment opportunity in South East Asia, particularly in the oil and gas sector.
Underscoring this, Bentley will base its South East Asia sales, support, and services operations in Kuala Lumpur. In the coming months, Bentley plans to increase the size of its offices here and add colleagues to this location, including executive Management.
Bentley is a global organization but understands the importance of staying involved at the local level. For example, its large oil and gas team sets innovative strategies based on its global experience, but merges that with the company’s local knowledge to come up with solutions that address specific regional and/or local requirements.
John Sanins: Bentley’s stated mission is sustaining infrastructure. We provide a comprehensive portfolio of products, from engineering applications to data management tools that are used to design, build, and operate all types of infrastructure – thereby sustaining society, the environment, and the infrastructure professions.
Bentley Systems applications – especially MicroStation – have been used by a large number of users in this region as their standard CAD platform over the last 2 decades. Bentley supports infrastructure projects worldwide and the oil and gas sector represents an important part of Bentley’s growth strategy.
What applications does Bentley Systems offer players in the oil and gas industry?
J.S.: Bentley’s MicroStation application is the market-leading platform for plant creation applications. For all the major operators in oil and gas industry, from upstream to downstream both offshore and onshore, MicroStation continues to be used on projects all around the world, including, of course, Malaysia and other parts of South East Asia. Bentley’s broad portfolio spans the range of applications addressing the complete infrastructure lifecycle – from conceptual design to detail design, construction, operations and maintenance, handover, turnaround, and decommissioning. Bentley is developing applications based on the ISO 15926 standard (the ISO standard for information management across the lifecycle of, for example, an oil and gas facility) because we see this as the most important industry standard to deliver sustainable infrastructure to this industry.
Bentley has long recognized that the traditional applications developed and used in the ’80s and ’90s are not easily adapted to the new industry requirements of today’s globally sourced and loosely coupled projects, which demand open information sharing. We moved away from an environment based on a central, closed model to a dynamic environment that respects the distributed nature of today’s project teams and takes into account the global supply chain and increasing owner-operator demand for better handover to operations.
What are the opportunities that you foresee for Bentley in Malaysia to develop more products for the oil and gas industry?
J.S.: We have been looking at the approach being used by PETRONAS and working with many other players in this arena to add as much value as we can.
A.S.: We would like to thank PETRONAS for hosting and organizing the POSC Caesar meetings in Kuala Lumpur, and for promoting and supporting the ISO 15926 standard in the oil and gas industry in Malaysia. PETRONAS and Bentley are working on different pieces of a bigger picture as we both focus on creating an open sharing of information that can be used among engineering companies, not only in Malaysia but also internationally.
At the end of the day, ISO 15926 can be used during the handover to create many more areas of efficiency in the operations phase. Working with local companies to fully understand PETRONAS’ environment is the best way for Bentley to go forward with a solid integrated operations strategy. The common goal is to make PETRONAS more efficient, effective, and globally competitive. For that we bring our global experience and add to this PETRONAS’ vision, local knowledge and understanding.
J.S.: Bentley’s oil and gas solution provides a data centric approach that the extended enterprise will use to manage engineering data throughout the infrastructure lifecycle. We provide engineering contractors with technologies to engineer and analyze the evolving design, as well as to manage content across the project, enabling distributed teams to collaborate effectively. Bentley also provides tools that allow data that has been transitioned from the managed engineering information hub to be quality checked and verified before being handed over to the plant owner. We call this a “data warehouse.” Bentley has been a pioneer in engineering information management and, today, more than 80% of the top 500 engineering firms are using our technology.
Bentley is well known worldwide, but is not established in Malaysia. How are you going to replicate your global successes in Malaysia?
A.S.: It starts with increasing our local footprint, and this is something on which we are working right now. It also has to do with forming strategic partnerships with companies such as ALCIM, as well as getting involved at a strategic level with PETRONAS. Our approach is to not force a replacement of design tools, but rather to add value to the existing data. We are happy to manage data available from any of our competitors’ systems, instead of insisting that our technology be used. Bentley wants to promote an open, interoperable approach. Of course, we can offer a one-stop-shopping solution with our broad portfolio of applications, if this is what the user is looking for. Our approach opens up the option of offering Bentley applications to any client, whatever technology it is using.
J.S.: Interoperability is based on international standards, and Bentley has been leading the charge by providing new applications based on the ISO 15926 standard. We call them our OpenPlant suite. As ISO 15926 and Bentley’s OpenPlant applications get used on more and more major projects, data will be shared in a way not possible with older systems, enabling a more flexible approach to working that’s in keeping with the way projects are designed and executed today. In addition, these new tools provide real value to users and are priced lower than the current maintenance cost of the older tools.
A.S.: Bentley also brings to the region the experience and knowledge of our more than 2,700 colleagues, many of whom are qualified engineers. Our ability to have a highly qualified local team and local partnerships, while also being able to leverage the expertise of our 2,700 colleagues, clearly differentiates us.
Indeed, Bentley brings more than technology to a region. We also bring capabilities that can help raise the standards of the local economy, the industry, and the people. For example, Bentley recently worked in partnership with the African Academy to develop piping courses to align the knowledge and skills of future engineers in South Africa with the standards in that part of the world. We have trained both the engineers and the trainers so that the courses are sustainable within the country. We are looking to do the same thing in Malaysia – that is, to increase the quantity of highly trained engineers available to support today’s projects environments. This is a key part of Bentley’s mission – sustain the professions by working with schools, colleges, and universities. The target in the coming five years for the SEAPac region is to increase the number of trained people by one million. We will not achieve this by ourselves, so we are selecting local training and development partners. In addition, you will see Bentley, through our Be Careers Network, offering heavily discounted or even free copies of our software to students, along with other initiatives designed to attract more young people to the engineering disciplines. We do this to develop and sustain the infrastructure professions.
J.S.: Moreover, through the comprehensive professional training provided by the Bentley Institute, individual practitioners are able to advance their knowledge and learn a new set of skills. These will enable them to take advantage of the latest informational modeling best practices to support their work and advance their careers.
Bentley also uniquely provides, for a single and very affordable annual fee, discipline-specific Passport Subscriptions offering a full-range of software, training and content the practitioner’s project mix requires. Through this professional upgrade in software toolset and skills, individual practitioners quickly make their work more valuable. We have a range of such subscriptions for most engineering and design disciplines. Moreover, the industry is looking to recruit new people, and the flexible approach to training and software delivery we employ empowers users to upgrade their skills in new technology easily and quickly.
In Malaysia it is still not common to follow international standards. How do you convince customers to use these international standards?
A.S.: Indeed, public and private organizations everywhere want to add their own flavor to international standards. As a POSC CAESAR and FIATECH member, Bentley is working very closely with ALCIM and PETRONAS (both also members of these organizations) to adopt international standards for interoperability – such as ISO 15926 for the Malaysian oil and gas industry. We are building applications based on these standards to make them easy to adopt. At the same time, more of today’s owner-operators are adopting the ISO 15926 standard for easy handover to operations and lifecycle information management, supported by the delivery of project information by EPCs. We do not have to educate PETRONAS as to the importance of industry standards since it understands this need and leads the world’s oil industry. We expect PETRONAS to influence other owner-operators.
J.S.: Bentley believes that once the ISO 15926 standard has been adopted internationally, the oil and gas industry will be liberated from its dependency on existing proprietary systems, enabling information to be used and reused easily across the entire lifecycle of an asset. This will benefit large organizations as well as smaller, more dynamic ones that are an important part of the overall value chain. Without question, ISO 15926 facilitates the integration of different users’ systems, and ultimately protects data throughout the lifecycle of the project. This fits very well with PETRONAS’ aspirations to be a regional leader.
How has Bentley’s relationship with PETRONAS evolved with the growing internationalization of the group, and how do you maintain this relationship?
J.S.: Internally, we have a “global and strategic account management” program. Through it we are able to provide a much more dedicated level of integration and support to our users. For example, we have an international R&D team that incorporates PETRONAS’ ideas and vision into its own when formulating future developments for the industry. As a result of this program and others, our relationship with PETRONAS continues to grow even stronger.
What would be your main goals in Malaysia in terms of development of the industry and the country?
J.S.: As we said earlier, Bentley’s goal is to increase the number of trained users in this region to make a fundamental difference. In addition, I see us working more closely with and adding more value to the maintenance and operations side of an owner-operator’s business. This is an important goal of Bentley moving forward. Though we’ve long provided products and services for operations, we have recently announced a new initiative called AssetWise that accelerates Bentley’s focus on value creation for owner-operators – enabling operations and maintenance to take full advantage of information modeling, and thus realize the potential of “intelligent” infrastructure assets. Bentley’s “AssetWise” platform will combine multiple information modeling services to improve the lifecycle management and operational performance, safety, compliance, and governance of infrastructure assets while increasing the return on investment for owner-operators. Toward this goal, Bentley recently acquired Enterprise Informatics, Inc. and Exor Corp. The Enterprise Informatics eB Insight software provides configuration and change management capabilities for mission-critical infrastructure asset operations for the energy, nuclear, rail, and government sectors. Exor information modeling software provides for the management and operations of linear networks for infrastructure, including roads and railways. We believe this new initiative will be a great success story for us.
A.S.: Bentley has long been involved in major oil and gas projects around the world. Regionally, we have been involved in two significant projects for which we used our capabilities in the area of engineering content management to extend value into operations for plant owners. These include the highly successful BP Tangguh LNG project, which was a major success, and in India the Jamnagar Refinery, executed by Bechtel.
J.S.: In terms of construction, Bentley offers a pioneering technology called ConstructSim that addresses the long-standing challenges associated with building large complex facilities in a safe environment. Using powerful tools within ConstructSim, construction teams can take advantage of simulation capabilities and computer models to visualize construction sequencing. This unique set of capabilities should find wide application in this region.
What would be your dream project in Malaysia or the region to demonstrate Bentley’s capabilities?
J.S.: Looking at the current level of investment, we would like to extend the use of our OpenPlant technology into more of the region’s major greenfield projects. Looking at existing facilities and infrastructures within this region, we would like to play an even bigger role in maintaining and maximizing the utilization of existing plants and facilities, while enhancing safety, respecting the environment, and extending the life of this infrastructure. And, in general, we would like to transpose our skills and knowledge within the region.
What are the reciprocal benefits of having Bentley in Malaysia and for Bentley to have Malaysia in its portfolio?
A.S.: Because Bentley’s comprehensive portfolio of software is scalable and can be used in big and small projects, we will add value to the industry. Smaller engineering firms traditionally cannot afford the more expensive components needed to facilitate smart engineering. Through Bentley, firms and individual practitioners alike can take advantage of these innovations at a very low cost. As a result, we will foster the enhancement of local skill levels to make sure Malaysia is self-reliant. As we indicated earlier, we uniquely provide very flexible subscription programs that enable users to ramp up based on their needs, and this makes Bentley unique. In summary, we at Bentley want to have a bigger footprint in Malaysia, and Malaysia is at the top of our list of countries to work with. At the end of the day, our expanded presence in this region will be a win-win situation. As I am extending the SEAPac territory, my number one priority for investment will be Malaysia.
What do you want the company to look like in the coming years?
J.S.: We want to be deeply engaged with a majority of the owner-operators, which would mean that we are also engaged with the supplier stream of large and small EPCs. In addition, I would like to see an expanded availability of trained operators at facilities, and a high level of sharing operations information.
A.S.: I agree with John. Developing substantial business relationships at a strategic level with all of the key Malaysian oil and gas industry owner-operators, including, of course, PETRONAS, would be a tremendous achievement.
If you had to say one thing to the Malaysian oil and gas industry, what would it be?
A.S.: Bentley’s software is widely used in Europe and the USA, and we are now ready to put the global knowledge that we’ve gained to work advancing the information modeling best practices of the oil and gas industry and others in Malaysia. As I said, we see Malaysia as our number one investment priority.