The Challenges of Development: An Interview with Weatherford’s Country Manager Ahmed Abuzeid

Egypt Oil and Gas obtained an exclusive interview with Country General Manager of Weatherford, Ahmed Abuzeid to discuss Weatherford’s expanding service portfolio and goals for 2013.

Can you tell me about your early experience in the petroleum sector?
I have thirty-five years of varied and diverse experience within the oil and gas industry, mostly related to drilling onshore & offshore wells all over Egypt. After earning my degree in petroleum engineering from Cairo University, I gained my initial work experience on a variety of oilfield rigs. Then I started working for an American drilling company, Sante Fe, in 1975 before eventually transferring to the Canadian company Precision in 2004. It was my pleasure to join Weatherford team in 2005 as Country General Manager for drilling rigs, prior to transitioning to Country General Manager for all Weatherford services in 2012.

What can you tell me about Weatherford’s services and market share?
Weatherford is a multinational service company that provides equipment, technology and expertise to the oil and gas sectors. We specialize in drilling, evaluation, completion, production and intervention services. Our service portfolio includes drilling rigs, well construction and completion, formation evaluation and production optimization services. As a result of our experience and expertise we occupy a significant market share.
Weatherford consistently delivers technology and service that ensures successful drilling of high profile prospects. We assign highly qualified personnel to oversee managed pressure drilling to ensure the flawless utilization and optimal performance of equipment and technology. Weatherford has numerous projects currently underway in Egypt, including several contracts in the Mediterranean. We are currently involved in the several HP/HT projects located offshore Egypt.  The NOTUS and SALAMAT wells operated BG & BP are notable examples.
Weatherford has a reputation of quality and sophistication that we have achieved by providing consistent and reliable service to our clients at a competitive price. As a result of this ethic, we have a built long-lasting relationship with numerous multinational companies. Through our commitment to quality and reliability we contribute to our clients success. Through our partnerships we help our clients continually innovate in terms of exploration, evaluation and production. The dynamic is very productive and, as such, we have the pleasure of recurrently working with a wide variety of local and international oil companies operating all over the world. 

Can you tell me about products or services you are currently promoting?
Recently we introduced the industry’s only membrane-based gas extraction technology, the GC-TracerTM. The GC-TracerTM detects and evaluates gases at much higher sensitivity in order to give our clients more accurate formation evaluation and significantly reduced reservoir uncertainty. The GC-TracerTM is currently assigned to BG’s deep-water well, the Notus-1. We have received tremendous feedback concerning its value and are very enthusiastic about increased utilization of the technology.

There has been much debate within the service sector concerning the continued emphasis on pricing. What do you feel are the long-term implications of the current fixation on price?
The ongoing emphasis on the lowest cost option is shortsighted. Our business is too technical for such a simplistic mentality. Pricing is always a concern and companies should price services as competitively as possible. However, quality and reliability must also be considered. We shouldn’t condition any tender by selecting the lowest price option. Such strategies result in low product quality, which inevitably translates to project delays and logistical problems, many of which can be hazardous in terms of safety.  Lower initial costs inevitably translate to greater, and more expensive, problems in the long-term. As such, I feel the current emphasis on the lowest cost option is problematic and should be altered.

What strategies have Weatherford adopted to successfully establish itself as a dominant player in the service sector?  
Weatherford invests considerably in training and development as we feel that investing in our employees will ensure consistent and reliable delivery of the quality service we are known for. Our Abu Dhabi based training center, WTTC, offers a wide variety of educational initiatives for all our employees. Training seminars include drilling, safety and technical elements. Dependant on the project or area, we also offer supplemental training that is specific to the job or locale.

How would you characterize the challenges facing the Egyptian energy sector? 
I feel that the sector is suffering from stagnation resulting from a lack of advanced technological innovation. I understand that Egypt is currently facing many challenges, however the petroleum sector can substantially contribute to economic recovery, which is sorely needed. As such, the government needs to encourage technological development, innovation and investment in the sector. Specifically, Egypt needs to bring new technologies to further develop unconventional resources. I feel that such an emphasis will open alternative avenues for exploration and bring increased momentum and productivity to the sector. We shouldn’t only focus on using the current concessions without exploring new concessions in alternative ways. I feel that improvement in these areas will likely lead to increased investment in the sector. Egypt has incredible potential in hydrocarbons; we just need to focus on how to enrich it. With better planning and increased efficiency we can tap that potential.

In your opinion, what strategies can be adopted to confront these challenges and attract increased investment?
First, I think increased communication and transparency are crucial to attracting investors. We need to have round table debates with government officials, private investors and independent consultants. The dialogue could go a long-way in developing solutions to current problems and providing clarity about the direction of the sector.  Second, I think regulations need to be revised; the process of obtaining permits needs to be streamlined and more efficient. Third, Egypt needs to employ a renewed emphasis on education in the petroleum sector. Increased knowledge and experience amongst key decision makers will inevitably lead to greater efficiency and productivity. Lastly, I feel the subsidy issue needs to be addressed. I concede that we do need to remove energy subsidies for future growth and development. However, the drastic removal of subsidies could cause more problems and potentially harm many people. Energy subsidies can be reduced in a gradual manner over a period of several years. We need to investigate subsidies in an effort to determine how they can be reduced without harming the poorest Egyptians.

How does Weatherford regulate procedures related to health, safety and the environment?
We have an entire division focused on the implementation and development of our procedures related to quality, health, safety and the environment (QHSE). We design our procedures with HSE in mind. As a multinational company operating globally we adhere to the latest international standards and regulations related to QHSE. Throughout our services we strive for minimal environmental impact. 

What are your goals 2013?
We aim to increase our market share by bringing increasingly sophisticated technology, equipment and services to Egypt. We will continue to provide high quality service simultaneous to our continued innovation and development in the sector. Additionally, we will continue to develop local expertise in Egypt through our advanced training. We continue to actively seek solutions to Egypt’s production problems, with the aim of boosting the country’s productivity and strengthening the national economy.

By Julie Herrick


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