XARIS DE­VEL­OP­MENTS

Xaris De­vel­op­ments’ ex­per­tise across ar­eas of project de­vel­op­ment in power plant and en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture is mir­rored by its abil­ity to drive such ser­vices in chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments

Africa Outlook - - Front Page - Writer: Matthew Staff | Project Man­ager: Matt Cole-Wilkin

Find­ing opportunities, de­liv­er­ing value

Borne out of in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence and a stead­fast mis­sion to evolve the world’s en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture, Xaris De­vel­op­ments is mak­ing waves across Africa, the Mid­dle East and South Asia es­pe­cially, along­side piv­otal part­ners, CJM Man­age­ment Con­sul­tancy and Thomassen Ser­vice Mid­dle East; both op­er­at­ing out of Dubai, UAE.

The Aus­tralia-based Xaris Group sub­sidiary iden­ti­fied Africa in par­tic­u­lar as an in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­nity across ar­eas of power plant de­vel­op­ment and en­ergy in­dus­try con­sul­tancy off the back of col­lec­tive, re­gion­ally-spe­cific knowl­edge at­tained over many years by the Xaris De­vel­op­ments team, and es­pe­cially its Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Hen­nie Steyn.

He in­tro­duces: “Many of us who ini­ti­ated Xaris back in 2010 had col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence not just of this kind of work but of the re­gions we were look­ing to en­ter; es­pe­cially Africa. We had worked on nu­mer­ous smaller power gen­er­a­tion pro­jects and other com­plex in­fra­struc­ture-based works and de­cided to ac­cu­mu­late this knowl­edge to­gether in or­der to en­ter the mar­ket.”

“I’ve been to most coun­tries in Africa and spoke with many of the con­ti­nent’s peo­ple. We un­der­stand the pol­i­tics of many coun­tries well and while it’s not al­ways an easy place to do busi­ness, there are many opportunities to be re­alised if you know the best way to work with the con­ti­nent’s peo­ple.”

The key to Xaris’ suc­cess in Africa was de­rived from a clear strat­egy and fo­cus de­signed to mit­i­gate some of the chal­lenges in­her­ent with do­ing busi­ness in the re­gion. In­stead of go­ing through often lengthy dis­cus­sion pro­cesses at the ge­n­e­sis of any po­ten­tial process, the Com­pany will only take on a project if it owns the work­ing re­la­tion­ships in those coun­tries.

Steyn ex­plains: “This way, we can make sure the right dis­cus­sions are be­ing had, align­ing the project’s po­ten­tial to our own vi­sion and ap­proach, and we have had sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess in con­duct­ing oper­a­tions this way.

“Each coun­try has its own reg­u­la­tions of course, but one thin line that cuts through all na­tions is in­ter­na­tional fi­nance stan­dards and once you have a solid project you can usu­ally ap­proach them from this per­spec­tive and they will ac­cept that. Then, added to that, we have an in­ter­nal knowhow from our var­i­ous ex­pe­ri­ences to learn from coun­tries’ pre­vi­ous is­sues and of­fer what is re­quired to move for­ward.”

Ul­ti­mately, the abil­ity to an­a­lyse opportunities and then ap­proach them in the most cus­tomis­able

and be­fit­ting way en­ables Xaris to ac­cel­er­ate coun­tries’ in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ments; a skill that de­rives largely from the Com­pany’s key busi­ness part­ner­ships with CJM Man­age­ment Con­sul­tancy and Thomassen Ser­vice Mid­dle East.

Shar­ing ideas and knowl­edge in terms of skills transfer and com­po­nent op­ti­mi­sa­tion, Xaris has been able to lever­age each part­ner’s in­dus­try in­flu­ence on an in­ter­na­tional scale to make the busi­ness as nim­ble as it is to­day.

The next level

“Where Xaris goes, CJM-MC and Thomassen go with full sup­port, which re­ally helps us to make the dif­fer­ence when it comes to be­ing nim­ble and when it comes to our in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty; two of our key dif­fer­en­tia­tors,” Steyn af­firms.

Nat­u­rally, this also trans­lates into project sat­u­ra­tion and suc­cess, mak­ing Xaris one of the lead­ing ex­po­nents of achiev­ing bank­a­bil­ity of util­ity pro­jects in Africa.

Steyn con­tin­ues: “Many util­ity providers have lost their bank­a­bil­ity and

have no credit-wor­thy rat­ings to use for fi­nance struc­ture pro­jects, so that has be­come one of the four main cri­te­ria for us to start work­ing on a project.

“Se­condly, is the afore­men­tioned own­er­ship of work­ing re­la­tion­ships in each coun­try to en­sure we can take a project in the way we feel is best.”

The third con­sid­er­a­tion when analysing po­ten­tial pro­jects – whether it’s for Xaris’ self-funded de­vel­op­ments, de­vel­op­ments for other par­ties, or across its con­sul­tancy oper­a­tions – is the ex­tent of de­mand. For in­stance, in South Africa where there is an over­sup­ply of power at present, the Com­pany un­der­stands that open­ings are limited, whereas in Tan­za­nia or Namibia where its flag­ship Walvis Bay project sits, the need for an of­fer­ing such as Xaris’ is real and ur­gent.

“This leads into the fourth com­po­nent we ad­dress, in terms of what re­sources ex­ist in each par­tic­u­lar coun­try. In Tan­za­nia for in­stance, power sup­ply is in­suf­fi­cient, but they have a lot of re­sources,” Steyn picks up. “They’re prob­a­bly at 30 per­cent of where they should be, so pen­e­tra­tion is low and it rep­re­sents a mar­ket where we will be able to make a dif­fer­ence.”

Of course, it can be very chal­leng­ing to align such mar­ket opportunities to these spe­cific com­po­nents and vi­sions, and African pol­i­tics – which Steyn states is not for the “faint hearted” – con­trib­ute fur­ther, com­plex vari­ables to the melt­ing pot. But de­spite this, Xaris’ rep­u­ta­tion in the sec­tor and ser­vice ex­per­tise has al­ready en­sured the pipe­line for de­vel­op­ments for 2018 in Africa, the Mid­dle East, Aus­tralia and Pak­istan, to name a few.

“When we look for pro­jects, we look at these afore­men­tioned com­po­nents and see if it’s bank­able,” Steyn clar­i­fies. “If these cri­te­ria match, then we can reach any cor­ner in the cir­cle of the re­gions men­tioned.”

And Xaris can be se­lec­tive too.

Steyn con­tin­ues: “Our ex­pe­ri­ence and port­fo­lio means we can ac­tu­ally say no to peo­ple, and still have a project list as long as our arm. We’ve worked with liq­uid fields, with gas, with nu­clear, and of course we have ex­pe­ri­ence with re­new­ables now too.

“We have long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ships with im­por­tant eq­uity and debt fun­ders and are never short of opportunities to push for­ward a num­ber of pro­jects to the next level.”

De­vel­op­ing in the right di­rec­tion

The afore­men­tioned re­la­tion­ship with com­pa­nies such as CJM-MC also goes a long way in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the sourc­ing of pro­jects to be­gin with, lever­ag­ing their equally wide base and knowl­edge be­fore ap­ply­ing Xaris’ full de­vel­op­ment ap­proach.

“This ap­proach em­braces all the el­e­ments you need to look at to do a full power sta­tion de­vel­op­ment,” Steyn notes. “We’re ba­si­cally di­vided up into com­po­nents, so if you take the com­mer­cial side for ex­am­ple, we have honed our own skills into our own

spe­cific mod­els. Bankers and lenders will al­ways ask for open-sourced mod­els so we have de­vel­oped a model that works in ac­cor­dance with this, to then be able to play it in any di­rec­tion, with the nec­es­sary tech­nolo­gies and skills.

“Then, we also have our own au­dit func­tion, to en­sure we have very lit­tle come­backs from ex­ter­nal au­di­tors across our own mod­els.”

The sec­ond com­po­nent ad­dresses reg­u­la­tory and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues; study­ing and un­der­stand­ing the ins and outs of var­i­ous mar­kets and com­par­ing them to Xaris’ cur­rent struc­tures be­fore adapt­ing ac­cord­ingly.

“That can often prove to be the dif­fer­ence, es­pe­cially when adding in our third com­po­nent which is our tech­ni­cal func­tions,” Steyn con­tin­ues. “This in­cludes be­ing able to do ev­ery­thing in-house and look­ing at all as­pects of con­cept de­sign in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with our part­ners.”

The fourth com­po­nent is con­tract­based, Xaris hav­ing built up a track record that ac­counts for nearly all types of pro­posed project agree­ments. This means that the Com­pany’s time to mar­ket is much quicker than most com­peti­tors’.

Such an at­tribute is very at­trac­tive on a con­ti­nent that still craves in­no­va­tive, ground-break­ing de­vel­op­ments in the en­ergy space.

Steyn con­cludes: “This is what we want to do in terms of de­vel­op­ing more and in­flu­enc­ing the mar­ket more. Not just in Africa, but we want to en­sure the global mar­ket is de­vel­op­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

“More than that though, we want to pro­mote a bal­ance. Cer­tain coun­tries are solely driv­ing re­new­ables and oth­ers are still re­ly­ing on tra­di­tional sources, but you can’t have one and not the other. The way we want to make a dif­fer­ence is to help peo­ple un­der­stand that there needs to be a bal­ance, and if we’re do­ing that, then we will also con­tinue to be successful as a money-mak­ing busi­ness as a re­sult.”

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