A Good Time To Enjoy Natural Gas

August 2012, Vol. 239 No. 8

Erin Nelsen Parekh, Online Editor

Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA–World Gas Conference 2012 attracted more than 5,000 people from natural gas-related businesses around the world. P&GJ asked a number of them to discuss their goals, concerns and their top priorities. Upstream, midstream, downstream or Nord Stream, one thing they agreed on: this is the time to be in natural gas.

Merve Aslan, Business Development Manager, Targaz
(valve technology, Istanbul, Turkey)

P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?

Aslan: FRS, our trade brand, is so new in the market, especially for upstream. To present ourselves to upstream gas companies, the WGC is the key and the most important organization.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Aslan: If you or your brand is new in the market, you are always at a disadvantage. What people already know, they think is the best. Our first aim is to raise awareness in the market and put us in contention for serious projects.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Aslan: Our advantage is that we are not old, we are from Turkey, we can be competitive in every step. We have a lot of opportunity in the gas industry because we are not limited to either the upstream or downstream segments.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Aslan: Shopping. But we are mostly interested in selling. We have a low profile here, but step-by-step we will take our place in the market. Malaysia is our first step. There are some collaborations and partnership opportunities here, for example in South America, that we came to finalize. We will also close a deal with our local distributor for Southeast Asia.

Awangku Faizulemari Bin Awang Tajudin, Senior Engineer, Gas Malaysia
(Gas distribution, Shah Alam, Malaysia)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Faizulmari: Basically this is where we can meet a lot of the industry’s experts, especially focusing on our business, which is gas distribution. There are a lot of topics we can join in on.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Faizulemari: Gas pricing and gas supply availability.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?

Faizulemari: We are looking into new sources of supply for Malaysia, especially in terms of LNG trading.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Faizulemari: Our company supplies gas to Malaysia so we are just looking to expand the business.

Johan Van Wassenhove, President and CEO, Denys
(pipeline contractor, Gent, Belgium)

P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Wassenhove: As a pipeline contractor, I’m looking for the markets and for clients. This conference is a good opportunity to have the maximum contacts with gas owners and clients in a few days.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?

Wassenhove: Surviving. I have a growth business plan. Since the financial crisis of 2007 we have been quite busy, but this year, like 2011 and 2013, will be flat. The biggest challenge is to survive. We are a European company. The European crisis is real, so we have to see how we can minimize this dip.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Wassenhove: We should try to have a good mix in the energy balance like wind, solar panels and nuclear. Gas has a major role to play because the CO-2 emissions are much better than the classic fossil energy solutions. I believe in the gas industry because all the renewables are a little bit subject to hype. In the last 50 years we have seen a lot of hyped markets artificially bumped up. I think the gas industry is a fantastic industry and that it will grow.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Wassenhove: I can’t do much as a European contractor in Malaysia. I think they have all kinds of possibilities here but the market is mature. Tomorrow night I am leaving for China.

Yasser Salah M. Al-Jaidah, General Manager, Rasgas Korea Liason Office
(natural gas producer and supplier, Seoul, Korea; Doha, Qatar)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Al-Jaidah: The WGC is a gathering of all sellers and buyers, so you get a good context as to where the market is situated and where it’s going to be in the mid- to long-term. You get to meet your long-term customers and build networks, which is essential in our business. It’s a great event to see influential individuals and meet them face-to-face instead of by e-mail or telephone. That’s one of the key reasons it’s important to our company to have such a big booth and a presence here.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?

Al-Jaidah: Retention of employees. That’s a situation all organizations face today, that, and finding the right talent. LNG is a growing sector and that in itself is a challenge to absorb and retain the talent within the company.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Al-Jaidah: I see great opportunities. Probably you have noticed in the discussions that natural gas is clean and growing on a 2% basis in the future to 2030 and beyond. That calls for natural gas specifically being a key part of the energy mix in the future to reduce emissions and help sustain the world.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Al-Jaidah: On the business side, talk with individuals, have the necessary meetings, and network. On the personal side, get to see more of Malaysia. It’s a very beautiful country with nice people and great food.

Stefan Leunig, Spokesman, Wintershall GMBH

(oil & gas producer, Kassel, Germany)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Leunig: It’s the largest gas fair we have, and we have to be here because we want to show all the NOCs and the IOCs what we have to offer — as a partner and as an operator in the whole value chain of natural gas. We are, for example, producing gas in western Siberia with Gazprom, which is then transported to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline and hopefully soon via the South Stream pipeline, and then marketed in Europe.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Leunig: There’s a lot of investing we’re doing – in Russia and Germany for example. We also have to pick projects in Argentina and we’re watching developments in Libya where we produce a lot of oil. So I cannot point out [just] one. While we have a lot of challenges, we’re looking forward to it.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Leunig: Gas has a bright future. For us in Germany especially there will be no more nuclear power. Gas will have a future as the partner of the renewable energies in Germany, so we will focus on that. In Europe, the whole industry will focus on that. And we will show how Wintershall can deal with that and what we can offer to get more gas in the energy mix.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Leunig: Wintershall is not active in Malaysia. We have to focus on our core regions. We have to be here to be one of the major industry companies, but we hope to make nice contacts.

Brad Schaaf, CEO, GeoFields

(GIS and integrity management technology, Atlanta, GA, USA)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Schaaf: It’s the premier gas conference. This is our third time and even as a small company, it’s important to us to work all over the world. It’s been great for us all three times.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Schaaf: Staffing and competition for good workers. We are growing rapidly in North America because of increased regulations creating a lot of opportunities, and we can’t add staff fast enough. Outside of the U.S. we’re growing as well, as we see countries look toward [American] regulations and take best practices from them.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Schaaf: We focus on a niche of pipeline data management and integrity management, so there’s a tremendous opportunity in the U.S. to get it right. Few have really got it right and it’s still kind of in the early stages. Outside the U.S. too [data management] is definitely an emerging market.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Schaaf: We’ve got some existing regional clients we’re meeting and spending time with. A lot of other global clients are also here and we certainly want to meet new clients and new opportunities.

Michael Magerstädt, ROSEN SWISS AG
(pipeline inspection and integrity management technology, Stans, Switzerland)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Magerstädt: We’ve had contacts that came to our booth from all kinds of regions where we actually have business. Being a global name, it’s important for us to show our faces. But [the WGC is] also important as a showcase for technologies that reach a much wider audience, the kind of people you want to reach.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?

Magerstädt: Managing growth. It was the same last year, to be honest! We have grown by about 20% per year for the last 10 years on average, and the challenge is, as we have heard here in many sessions as well, to get qualified people, or to qualify people.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Magerstädt: In terms of energy this is the growth sector, that’s very clear. You have the environmental advantages, cost advantages and huge resources that are mostly just beginning to be tapped. In the immediate future at least this is the source for the future. Long term that may change, but definitely not in the next two decades or so.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?

Magerstädt: Maintain our presence, increase our recognition in the market, and hopefully start discussions on a few really interesting projects.

Stephanie Law, Vice President of Marketing, Emerson Process Management Regulator Technology
(automation and process management technology, Houston, TX)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Law: This is one of the rare exhibitions that is focused on gas utilities and distribution. So that gets a good cross-section of customers we can interact with.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Law: Getting the right people and training. We’re always expanding so it’s always a challenge to get people up to speed and make sure they can deliver our message to customers about our products and the value that we can present.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Law: We’re seeing a lot on the production side that’s going to filter down to the end customer, which is where we’re closer to. All the investment in the shale plays and unconventional gas and even some of the LNG applications we think will fuel our growth as we go forward.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?

Law: Interact with some great high-level customers who are here for the show.

Dr. Marc Nikles, General Manager, Omnisens SA
(integrity management technology, Morges, Switzerland)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Nikles: We’ve been looking for a big show in the region because this is a new area for us. We don’t have any business here yet as our activities are in Europe, North America, South America, Russia and a little bit in the Middle East. Our plan was to sense the opportunities we may have here by looking around, seeking collaboration with a local partner and investigating ongoing projects.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Nikles: There are several, as usual. We have introduced a new technology, which we are trying to educate the market about the benefits of using. The oil and gas market is pretty conservative in general so every time you have something new you have to persuade people.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Nikles: There are many. The first is the new construction being built, pipelines, but subsea, offshore projects are also being done nowadays. That is a big opportunity for us to introduce new techniques in this new construction. Environmental concern puts pressure on operators to justify that they’re doing the right thing in terms of monitoring and surveillance of their structures. We try to help them by introducing new and more efficient technologies to monitor their structures and ensure they’re operating safely.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Nikles: I haven’t set very large expectations because it’s the first time we’re here. We’re trying to better understand the market here and if we could find some good partner locally that would be fantastic.

Paul Wehnert, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Heath Consultants
(leak detection technology, Houston, TX)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Wehnert: Heath Consultants has been coming [to the WGC] for the last 30-40 years, exhibiting the last three or four times. I believe there are 70 countries being represented so to get the chance to see all those people in one week is a great opportunity for us.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Wehnert: We’re constantly looking for new representation for our products outside of North America, where we do extremely well. Outside the continent is a smaller market share for us, but we’re trying to develop that through avenues like the WGC.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the global gas industry?
Wehnert: Our claim to fame is leak detection products and services. With a lot of integrity issues around the world — aging infrastructure, greenhouse gas emissions and leaks to the atmosphere — it’s a worldwide issue, so for us it’s a good opportunity.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Wehnert: Extending the existing relationships that we have and developing new ones to increase our business opportunities outside North America.

Landale Cranfield, Wells Skillpool Advisor, Shell Upstream International
(oil and gas producer, Miri, Malaysia)
P&GJ: Why is the WGC important to your organization?
Cranfield: It allows us to showcase what we’re doing in LNG and the latest technologies we’re employing. It also enables us to meet many of our customers, hopefully future customers, and to network within the industry.

P&GJ: What is your top challenge?
Cranfield: Where do I start? Success breeds success, and we’ve been extremely successful in some of our projects, which means we’re getting more projects. So every time we have a project coming through the door it means we have to find more resources to man those processes. Last year we had about 18 rigs. By the end of this year we’ll have about 54. That’s a lot of rigs.

We’re growing in China and in Australia in unconventional gas, and we’ve got a lot of conventional gas in Brunei and Malaysia.

To me, it’s to be able to find and maintain the staff to do all these projects. Everywhere I go I hear people talking about resources, where can we find staff. New staff is fine but I’ve got to train them. And the standards we’re applying for the training are now getting higher.

P&GJ: What opportunities do you see in the world gas industry?
Cranfield: I think Shell has made the right sort of decisions. We went into gas quite a number of years ago and made it one of our strategic pillars. Obviously with the advent of unconventional gas that is a big opportunity. And we find now that in places like China and Australia there’s definitely more unconventional gas we didn’t know about. So we’re getting some good results — which means we have more work to do.

P&GJ: What do you hope to accomplish in Malaysia?
Cranfield: I live here. I develop young Malaysian drilling staff. So I guess the answer is to retire!