Interview with John Evans, General Manager of Fugro

What challenges has Fugro faced in Egypt? How has the country’s current political and economic situations affected the company?
While we have faced several challenges over the last two years, our business was not seriously damaged.We managed to continue to trade profitably. Fortunately, we have not had to make staff reductions or cut salaries, as some other companies have had to do.

Recently, however, we are becoming increasingly concerned about our business prospects in Egypt. Oil companies have recently slowed or stopped payments due to lack of US dollarsin the country. This currency shortage has resulted in project delays due to the lack of finance. Unless this currency issue is resolved, the industry may grind to a halt.
New tax laws have just been announced that, we believe, will damage the oil and gas industry, as they impose high withholding taxes on overseas service suppliers and do not respect taxation treaties. Also, dealing with the tax department has always been difficult. We are trying to close our financial accounts for the years 2008 onwards, but the process is very slow.

Attaining work permits for foreign staff has also become more difficult. While 95 percent of our employees are Egyptian, we also require specialists from time to time who must be brought in from abroad.

The oil industry is an international industry that relies of the movement of services and personnel from country to country and continent to continent. Egypt’s tax and employment laws must recognize this if the industry is to thrive.

How do you maintain competitive advantage in Egypt?
In Egypt, competition has always been strong with tenders contested by many bidders. We will continue to train and develop our staff and invest in new technology in order to achieve a competitive advantage in the service market.

What precautions does Fugro take in order to minimize its environmental impacts?
Our services generally have a low impact on the environment, which is further mitigated by our environmental management system, which is accredited to the ISO14001 standard. We ensure that the small amount of waste that is produced during our activities is delivered to waste disposal companies who can treat or recycle it. The challenge that we face in Egypt is finding competent and accredited waste disposable companies.

In terms of supporting the environmental performance of the oil industry, we provide marine environmental baseline surveys (EBS), which our clients use to measure and minimize the impact of their activities on the environment.

What are Fugro’s plans for the future?
We intend to recruit and train new Egyptian staff and invest in technology so that we can continue serve the Egyptian market with high quality and innovative services. We will also look to undertake some projects abroad in case the Egyptian market does not improve.

By Julie Herrick


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