Re­silient and Re­spon­si­ble

Here to stay

EME Outlook - - Contents - Writer: Matthew Staff Project Man­ager: Josh Hy­land

Es­tab­lished 35 years ago to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive con­struc­tion and main­te­nance ser­vices to the oil, gas and petro­chem­i­cal in­dus­try in Libya, Value Added Oil­field Ser­vices (VAOS) has adapted to re­gional, cul­tural, po­lit­i­cal and in­dus­trial re­quire­ments in or­der to re­main at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion and con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment.

Now oper­at­ing as a pri­vately-owned en­tity from its head of­fice in Malta fol­low­ing a 1997 man­age­ment buy­out and re­lo­ca­tion, the re­sul­tant provider still also en­joys Libya – as well as Aus­tria - as two of its core pres­ence points, and from these three bases is look­ing to ex­pand its im­pres­sive re­mit around the world.

“Although our core com­pe­tence can be found in the re­vamp­ing and build­ing of stor­age tanks, our project ref­er­ences clearly por­tray a wide range of com­pleted jobs cov­er­ing a wide range of dis­ci­plines such as civil, me­chan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal, in­stru­men­ta­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer­ing, pip­ing, in­su­la­tion, coat­ing, fire fight­ing sys­tems, plant main­te­nance, hot tap­ping works, in­tel­li­gent pig­ging, drilling for wa­ter wells, and ca­thodic pro­tec­tion,” in­tro­duces Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Chris­tian Win­ter­steiger. “VAOS’S aim is to be a one-stop shop for its cus­tomers in Libya, ser­vic­ing the mid and down­stream in­fra­struc­tures.

“All-told, our foot­print cur­rently runs across Libya, Nige­ria and Kuwait; the last two be­ing new mar­kets for us with a strong fo­cus on non- man-en­try tank clean­ing and other en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices such as oily pit clean­ing and soil re­me­di­a­tion. From these cur­rent mar­kets we are plan­ning to ex­pand into neigh­bour­ing coun­tries in that re­gion to es­tab­lish our or­gan­i­sa­tion’s reach across North Africa, the Mid­dle East and sub-sa­ha­ran Africa over the next five-10 years.”

This proac­tive ap­proach is in­dica­tive not just of the Com­pany’s foot­print am­bi­tions, but also VAOS’S abil­ity to di­ver­sify its re­mit ac­cord­ingly, and to then im­ple­ment new and im­proved pro­cesses to fa­cil­i­tate such de­vel­op­ments.

Win­ter­steiger of­fers as ex­am­ples: “As a con­se­quence of un­sat­is­fac­tory, his­tor­i­cally messy and un­healthy man­ual tank clean­ing jobs, mostly form­ing part of tank re­vamp­ing projects, VAOS had in­vested into a BLABO® sys­tem to carry out tank clean­ing jobs in a safe, fast and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way; and has be­come a part­ner of ORECO A/S for the au­to­mated re­cov­ery of hy­dro­car­bons from sludge and non- man-en­try clean­ing of stor­age tanks.

“VAOS is the only ser­vice provider in the field of ‘Au­to­mated Hy­dro­car­bon Re­cov­ery and Tank Clean­ing (AHRTC)’ in the Libyan mar­ket with a proven track record of suc­cess­fully com­pleted projects and an av­er­age re­cov­ery rate of 99 per­cent of hy­dro­car­bons from crude oil sludge since 2003.”

De­ter­mi­na­tion and tenac­ity

A track record such as this, com­ple­mented by un­par­al­leled scales – in­clud­ing its drilling di­vi­sion’s abil­ity

to drill wa­ter wells to depths of 2,300 me­tres – of­fers flex­i­bil­ity to move into new sec­tors as has been wit­nessed through VAOS’S re­cent en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices work.

But such di­ver­si­fi­ca­tions also al­low the busi­ness to re­main ag­ile in what has been a try­ing cli­mate over the past decade.

Win­ter­steiger elab­o­rates: “Re­silience has been our main dif­fer­en­tia­tor and is the ad­jec­tive that de­fines us best! Over the past seven years, since the be­gin­ning of the so called ‘Arab Spring’ we have been put to the test many times. We have gone through two ma­jor cam­paigns of evac­u­at­ing a large ma­jor­ity of our work­force, and we have seen huge fluc­tu­a­tions in terms of rev­enue and a se­vere short­age of lo­cal cur­rency in Libya; but we have weath­ered these storms and faced the chal­lenges with de­ter­mi­na­tion and tenac­ity.

“We have con­tin­u­ously ser­viced our clients in Libya dur­ing the times of the up­ris­ing and the fol­low­ing po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity as one of the very few Euro­pean Con­trac­tors (at times the only one) in this coun­try. This has not only hard­ened us as an or­gan­i­sa­tion, but has strength­ened our rep­u­ta­tion and stand­ing within the in­dus­try as a reli­able ser­vice part­ner that is here to stay.”

An ex­cit­ing fu­ture

While the wider Group’s head­quar­ters can now be found in Malta, VAOS still has an op­er­a­tional head of­fice in Tripoli, com­ple­mented by seven per­ma­nent ser­vice bases around East­ern Libya. And from these two core na­tional hubs - and now, ad­di­tion­ally, Kuwait and Nige­ria

fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful joint ven­tures - the Com­pany is on a prime strate­gic and ge­o­graphic foot­ing to progress.

Its pri­mary aim from this po­si­tion of strength is to pro­mote AHRTC ser­vices (non-man-en­try tank clean­ing) across each ter­ri­tory but do­ing so in a sus­tain­able, ef­fi­cient and re­spon­si­ble way.

“Our first and fore­most pol­icy is to serve our clients in the best pos­si­ble man­ner by de­liv­er­ing qual­ity jobs, on time and within bud­get,” Win­ter­steiger ex­plains. “We have al­ways main­tained a very close re­la­tion­ship with our clients, lis­ten­ing to their needs and re­quire­ments in or­der to try and find so­lu­tions to their prob­lems. Some­times this leads to search­ing for in­no­va­tive ideas and new tech­nolo­gies, such as the non-man- en­try tank clean­ing so­lu­tion.

“The long­stand­ing, good rep­u­ta­tion as a reli­able ser­vice part­ner and trusted re­la­tion­ship-builder since 1983 re­mains key in at­tain­ing con­tracts in this mar­ket to­day.”

Of course, re­gard­less of how per­son­alised a ser­vice is, any com­pany is only as good as the ul­ti­mate ser­vice it pro­vides, and VAOS cer­tainly ticks this box too hav­ing com­pleted

nu­mer­ous high pro­file, chal­leng­ing projects over the decades.

“One such ex­am­ple com­prised the in­stal­la­tion of a ca­thodic pro­tec­tion sys­tem to the enor­mous pipe network of the Great Man Made River Au­thor­ity in Libya. This job en­tailed the drilling of more than 80,000 holes with a depth of 10 me­tres each, then plac­ing sac­ri­fi­cial an­odes, back­fill­ing and con­nect­ing the an­odes to the elec­tri­cal sys­tem. The chal­lenge here was mostly due to the lo­gis­tics in­volved given the sheer num­ber of holes to be drilled over dis­tances in-ex­cess of 400 kilo­me­tres across desert and coastal en­vi­ron­ments,” Win­ter­steiger de­tails.

Sim­i­larly no­table projects in­clude the drilling of three deep wa­ter wells in South­ern Libya in prepa­ra­tion for oil well drilling, the con­struc­tion of a propane/bu­tane gas stor­age tank, the in­stal­la­tion of HP and LP gas tur­bines, Sa­hara-based pipe­line con­struc­tions, and the many AHRTC works that have oc­curred in re­cent times, just to name a few.

“Now, fol­low­ing our suc­cess­ful mar­ket en­try into Nige­ria, we have our first few projects lined up there this year, while we are also wit­ness­ing a re­cov­ery in Libya whereby down­stream in­vest­ments will be nec­es­sary to in­crease pro­duc­tion out­puts and ex­ports mov­ing for­ward,” the MD con­tin­ues. “Such projects would in­clude the build­ing of new, and re­fur­bish­ment of ex­ist­ing, stor­age tanks; pipe­line re­place­ments; and other im­por­tant equip­ment in­stal­la­tions.

“We are look­ing ahead for an ex­cit­ing fu­ture with rapid mar­ket growth!”

A greener, cleaner world

Hav­ing been af­fected by the po­lit­i­cal up­ris­ing in its main mar­ket of Libya, VAOS has sen­si­bly made up for any project short­falls in the coun­try by fo­cus­ing on in­ter­nal im­prove­ments in­stead, en­sur­ing that the Com­pany’s

fa­cil­i­ties and pro­ce­dures are primed for a do­mes­tic re­cov­ery.

Spread­ing the risk through in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion has been a sim­i­larly suc­cess­ful strat­egy to this end, and the com­bi­na­tion of the two has now laid the foun­da­tions for ex­cit­ing growth to come.

Im­por­tantly though, de­spite com­pany-wide broad­en­ing, there re­mains an in­trin­si­cally whole­some and lo­calised ethos.

“We have al­ways had a very large staff com­pli­ment of lo­cal em­ploy­ees and we ac­tu­ally wish to in­crease this seg­ment,” Win­ter­steiger em­pha­sises. “Some coun­tries how­ever are mak­ing it rather dif­fi­cult for com­pa­nies to ac­tu­ally source skilled work­ers in the lo­cal mar­ket due to the ab­sence of ap­pren­tice­ships or tech­ni­cal train­ing in­sti­tutes, but it’s about es­tab­lish­ing the right bal­ance be­tween lo­cal em­ploy­ment and reach­ing sus­tain­able lev­els of staff in terms of pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“From a sup­ply chain man­age­ment per­spec­tive, lo­cal­i­sa­tion plays into our hands as sourc­ing ma­te­ri­als within a spe­cific time­frame aids project speeds, but where there is a lack of avail­abil­ity we once again look to source in­ter­na­tion­ally in­stead.”

The same phi­los­o­phy will be ap­plied to Kuwait, Nige­ria and forth­com­ing pres­ence points as VAOS looks to cre­ate win-win, mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial net­works across the or­gan­i­sa­tion, ul­ti­mately gear­ing the Com­pany up for an ex­cit­ing, re­spon­si­ble fu­ture.

Win­ter­steiger con­cludes: “Over the com­ing years we wish to see our­selves as mar­ket lead­ers in non-man-en­try tank clean­ing in our cur­rent mar­kets while ex­pand­ing into two more coun­tries with this im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity.

“Our mis­sion is to con­trib­ute to­wards a greener, cleaner world within the oil & gas in­dus­try and we strongly be­lieve in the mas­sive ben­e­fits non-man-en­try tank clean­ing pro­vides for our clients and the in­dus­try at large.”

“Over the com­ing years we wish to see our­selves as mar­ket lead­ers in non-man- en­try tank clean­ing in our cur­rent mar­kets while ex­pand­ing into two more coun­tries with this im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity.”

“Although our core com­pe­tence can be found in the re­vamp­ing and build­ing of stor­age tanks, our project ref­er­ences clearly por­tray a wide range of com­pleted jobs cov­er­ing a wide range of dis­ci­plines...”

“Our first and fore­most pol­icy is to serve our clients in the best pos­si­ble man­ner by de­liv­er­ing qual­ity jobs, on time and within bud­get.”

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