Halliburton’s Egypt Area Manager, Hesham Ismail, spoke with Egypt Oil and Gas Newspaper about the company’s achievements this year and their aspirations for the following year. Halliburton has been able to build themselves a reputation as solid as the services they provide. They have grown from 36 employees in 1969 to 850 in 2006, all dedicated to maintain their company’s reputation as a leader in the Egyptian and international oil and gas market.
How competitive is the Egyptian market? And where does Halliburton stand amongst other services companies?
Halliburton have been always above the competition. Why? We are considered to be the only service company in the market that can go into a turn-key drilling and completion project from A to Z, and this is why I always say that Halliburton is above the competition when it comes to providing services and offering solutions. We are capable of supporting the operators in Egypt with the correct collective approach of the services they need based on a proper study of the job requirement. We do this with our customers in the Mediterranean concessions where there is a huge activity to fulfill the gas needs and the country export commitments.
We understand there is a respected competition in the market and we respect their capabilities, but on the other hand, we are very confident with our capabilities. New competitors in the market will be facing difficulties in the future; activities are going up rapidly, the dollar value of the barrel is increasing, we are expecting that by 2010 the barrel will go up to $110 for various reasons, and because of this, we should expect acquisitions to take place faster than ever, and there will be no place for small or even medium size service providers.
What difficulties do you face when operating in Egypt, in a general sense? Is it the culture, the people, the government or the operators you’re dealing with?
In Egypt, we don’t have a problem with the culture as we are almost Egyptians in Halliburton Egypt (96% Egyptians) and we are all proud of this. We’re all proud to have the highest percentage of nationalization within Halliburton globally. So as I said, culture is not a problem. We have very good relations with the government represented by the Ministry, EGPC, E-Gas and the JVs we deal with. This doesn’t mean that we don’t face difficulties during our operations in Egypt; in a general sense, fast decision-making is sometimes a problem and I would understand that when this is related to cost, time would be always involved. Another very important issue is that we need to give and offer proper training to the oilfield staff in Egypt. I would believe that the government should give a little bit more attention to the training and development of their employees. The introduction of technology with some JVs – and again because of the involvement of high cost – is another important issue. We all have to understand that technology will be always expensive; it costs us money but it solves a lot of downhole drilling, completion and production issues which are all translated to both time and money savings.
From 36 employees in 1969 you have grown to 850 employees in 2006. Is finding trained personnel a problem for you in Egypt? If yes, do you do your own training? Please elaborate.
Training and development of our employees have been always viewed to be the guarantee for future success. We send our engineers and field staff to workshops, seminars and technical training forums to the US and other Halliburton Technical Centers around the world. We also support lower & middle management levels with leadership training and managerial skills courses. Since the beginning of 2006, Halliburton has established one of the biggest three Technical Excellence Centers (TEC) in the world in Egypt. This TEC is supporting Halliburton areas of Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world with specialized instructors to offer their field staff on-job training and field experience. The training program consists of three phases with a total of approximately 30 weeks after which the graduate will get specialized in one of Halliburton’s products and/or service.
I understand that one of the main HSE concerns in Egypt is driving and this you tackled using the UK company “Exploration and Logistics” to train your employees in the skills of defensive driving. Are there any HSE concerns that pertain solely to Egypt other than driving? If yes, how will you tackle them?
Driving is one of the biggest safety hazards in our operations. For this reason, Halliburton does not stop thinking of solutions to eliminate this type of hazard. Several years ago, the use of private taxis was approved as a way of transporting our engineers to the worksite in an attempt to reduce their driving exposure on the roads, improve their ability to be fresh when they arrive onsite and avoid driving back home following long working hours on jobs. As time progressed we gave the third party taxi drivers Defensive Driving training and also insisted that the taxis were thoroughly inspected by our Maintenance department. These measures improved our target for an incident free environment, but has not removed incidents altogether. We are now in the process of purchasing sufficient pick-ups (double and single cabs) besides long leased pool of cars with Halliburton assigned drivers where we can monitor the driver’s night time activities to improve their mental condition for driving.
Every employee in Halliburton has a defensive driving license. We cannot drive in Egypt without having this license valid for a two-year period. Along with the defensive driving courses, we give safety awareness courses for our employees and our third party drivers.
It is a belief inside Halliburton that “Safety can not be compromised”.
Another important concern is environment. Issues like handling our chemicals or transportation of radioactive material is of high importance in our operations and would pass under our risk assessment procedures.
From all the services which you provide which do you have the highest demand for and why?
The demand is increasing on all services during this high activity period. Halliburton strength is always known by its pumping service side of the business. We are offering the market a variety of services in the drilling, production and completion sides. Cementing and fracing business will be tremendously growing in Egypt since a good cement job is considered to be the base for a good successful and safe drilling practice and fracing on the other hand is one of the most valuable solutions for production problems.
Are there any current projects of interest that Halliburton is working on?
We have this big project going on with Petrobel in the Mediterranean. This project is in the Temsah field where we are doing integrated project management work. We have other big projects going on in the Mediterranean besides the preparation for a big project with Apache for the next 3-5 years.
What percentage of Halliburton’s overall profits would you say is brought in by Halliburton Egypt?
Egypt is doing great and it all goes for the integrity, dedication and commitment of our Egypt Team. We are proud to be one of the top profit (as a percentage of revenue) producers of Halliburton worldwide.
With 2006 coming to an end, what are Halliburton’s greatest achievements this year? And what are your plans for the following year?
There are so many, but I would say the continuous support we are giving in the area of technology and the fracing service support we are offering to the oil field is a great achievement. We are all very proud and satisfied with the performance of all our services in Egypt from the drilling, logging, and completion, to the fluids and pumping services. We are coming very strong in the area of geological and geophysical technologies through Landmark technology and consulting services. The market in Egypt will see a different Landmark in 2007 with regard to reservoir management and structural interpretation.
We have another important challenge in supporting our neighbors in Africa and the Middle East. Egypt is becoming a regional technical school and the producer of good experienced technical hands which we’re all proud of.
The challenge in 2007 with the increasing activity in Egypt is securing enough resources and training and developing our field staff.
How do you see the future of Halliburton in Egypt?
Very promising Insha’Allah. We’re professionally going on with our development plans. We have a very good performance record in 2006 and we will be challenging ourselves to continue with the same performance level in 2007.