Make it in the emirates strategy promotes the energy transition

Nov 01, 2022 by Energy Connects

Ali Abdulla Al Ali, Petrofac’s UAE Country Chair, discusses the company’s energy transition strategy going forward and how Petrofac is bringing the concept of ‘Make it in the Emirates’ to life.

image is Petrofac Ali Abdulla Al Ali Web

Ali Abdulla Al Ali, UAE Country Chair, Petrofac

As a leading energy services company in the Middle East, how does Petrofac differentiate itself in supporting customers across the region?

We believe our local delivery model sets us apart. We ensure that our local teams reflect the clients and communities they serve, we focus on building strong local supply chain relationships and aim to deliver the highest levels of in-country value (ICV) in our industry. We have invested in digitalisation and in our technical expertise to maximise productivity and provide optimal solutions. Being technology neutral ensures we specify the best solutions and develop strategic partnerships to help us deliver the best outcomes for our clients.

How are you supporting the energy transition?

The energy transition is linked with overcoming one of the biggest challenges currently facing the world, the decarbonisation of the global energy sector. We know it is a long road and needs real commitment. Processes need to change, equipment needs to be retired and replaced, and investment decisions need to be taken. And that means belief and resolve, placing energy transition at the core of our strategy. We are helping clients reduce the carbon intensity of their existing operations. In MENA, where the onus on fulfilling the world’s ongoing oil and gas demand is likely to remain in the coming years, this will be a particular focus for our customers. Much of our traditional engineering and construction work continues to relate to oil and gas mega projects. But, on these too, decarbonisation has become a big theme.

We are routinely challenged to come up with concepts that will minimise the carbon intensity of future operations. Though our heritage lies in oil and gas, we are also increasingly applying our skills, expertise, and best practice to a growing suite of new energies as we play our part in delivering a more sustainable, cleaner future. In the past couple of years, the number of new energy projects we are working on at Petrofac has grown quickly. We’re actively growing our portfolio in offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, waste to energy, and solar. We see the transition as a significant opportunity to reshape the energy mix for years to come, and along with the creation of in-country value, it is central to our local delivery model.

Can you elaborate on the ‘Make it in the Emirates’ initiative supporting the global energy transition? And what efforts are you taking to enhance domestic ambitions?

We have been in the UAE for over 30 years, executing both regional and international energy projects. Well before the ‘ICV’ term was coined, we were buying locally and hiring locally right across the Emirates. In that sense, ‘Made in the UAE’ is something we have helped pioneer here. While hydrocarbons dominate this region and continue to satisfy most of the energy demand globally, renewable energy sources are now growing rapidly, and we will continue to see this accelerate over the coming decades. The UAE has big ambitions and climate change targets. The work we have been executing from the UAE, in offshore wind for big international developments, is helping to establish the country as a global hub for these types of projects.

We have been working with local partners to design and build large electrical substations for major offshore wind projects, using local goods and services (made in the UAE) while also creating outstanding new opportunities for people across the Emirates. A large cadre of our Emirati graduate engineers supported the delivery of our most recent offshore wind projects for European developments. Building on their formal training at the Petrofac Academy, the graduates have benefited from on-the-job training, support, and work site experience. Meanwhile, Petrofac benefited from its talent, enthusiasm, and commitment to the local economy – while the UAE builds its credentials in one of the world’s most rapidly growing sectors.

As the energy sector enters an upcycle, what is your current outlook on the future?

Looking forward, a significant increase in bidding activity has put us firmly on the path to growth. We believe that the long-term fundamentals are strong. With a solid commodity price environment and an increasing focus on energy security, the outlook for the industry is robust and Petrofac enters this important period in a strong competitive position. Whatever the pace of the energy transition, absolute energy demand is expected to remain strong, and oil and gas will continue to be a significant proportion of the global energy mix over the coming decades.

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