Saudi Vision 2030

Hudson ... targeting sustainable growth

Hudson ... targeting sustainable growth

AYTB visualises a bright future in Saudi Arabia

The very fact the company turned in profits year after year for the last 40 years is in itself a great achievement, AYTB CEO KEVIN HUDSON tells K S SREEKUMAR in an exclusive interview

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Al-Yusr Industrial Contracting Company (AYTB), a leading provider of a diversified range of specialist engineering, contracting and logistical support services to the oil, gas and industrial sectors of Saudi Arabia, sees a "bright future" for itself as it continues to win big-ticket projects and pursues diversification in-kingdom.

The company, whose joint venture (JV) with leading global technology, engineering, procurement and construction firm, KBR, (KBR Al Yusr) recently won a maintenance alliance programme (MAP) contract to provide long-term maintenance services for the Sadara Chemical Company, expects more such opportunities coming its way, AYTB CEO Kevin Hudson tells OGN in an exclusive interview.

At Sadara, the largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase with 26 world-scale manufacturing plants, KBR Al Yusr will provide preventative and predictive maintenance services (PPM) for an initial period of three years, extendable up to five years.

In addition to PPM, KBR Al Yusr will support Sadara with management and execution of corrective maintenance, shutdowns and turnarounds.

Besides, the JV had already received a three-year extension to its existing General Maintenance Services (GMS) contract for the 440,000 bpd refinery at Satorp (a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Total) refining and petrochemicals project in Jubail.

Under the terms of the GMS contract, the JV will continue to provide preventive, predictive, corrective and shutdown maintenance services most notably for the crude distillation units, distillate hydrocracker, sulphur recovery unit, aromatics, catalytic cracking unit, tank farms and port loading facilities among others.

"The Satorp and Sadara contracts are unique in the kingdom, but there are more being talked about," says Hudson adding that the contracts aren’t about just supplying labour, it is about providing a whole gamut of services such as planning and preventative maintenance, reliability studies, digitisation and the like.

Talking about JVs, AYTB has also a collaboration with France-based Manoir Industries, which provides tubes for ethylene cracker furnaces and reformers.

"Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is pulling the manufacturing assembly into the kingdom. It provides us many opportunities. As manufacturing moves inside the kingdom, it helps us partner and expand our services like our JVs are doing currently," he maintains adding that AYTB is at present busy with putting together a facility in Ras Al Khair. "Hopefully that will come on stream soon," he says.

He points out that Saudi Arabia is moving towards totally outsourcing maintenance contracts and therein AYTB sees huge opportunities for itself. Under the influence of Vision 2030 and Saudi Aramco’s IKTVA programme the Saudi economy is growing and the industrial landscape changing fast. The Vision talks about long-term sustainable employment and about making Saudi Arabia a manufacturing base.

"We have established relationships with blue-chip clients. We continue to perform an excellent service and I think that can only lead to future strategic growth moving forward," he notes.

AYTB had set a strategy called ‘sustainable growth’ three years ago. That strategy remains. However, there are initiatives beneath that strategy that have changed over the three years as the company focused on different parts of its business, explains Hudson.

"Now there is a bigger emphasis on ‘focus marketing’. Our growth is actually not just good look but a result of good planning and good work," he asserts.

Referring to operations and maintenance (O&M), Hudson says for O&M to click you need an existing workforce that is competent. It is not just hiring people when the need arises. Operating in a live plant is a particularly onerous task as some of the plants can be hazardous. Therefore, safety is a premium.

So, although there is competition in the O&M sector, "we have seen people come into the sector, fail and leave".

"I do believe that as time moves on, if you have to look at what the world does, we see that the world has moved generally towards outsourcing O&M rather than doing it as an in-house core competency. I think the kingdom is slowly moving in that direction and for AYTB there are huge opportunities, and having mastered process safety management procedures puts us in a good position for the coming years."

Talking about AYTB’s biggest achievements over the last four decades, he says the very fact the company turned in profits year after year for the last 40 years is in itself a great achievement.

It is the company’s ‘tenacity’ and ‘survival instincts’ that have to be lauded he says adding: "The biggest lesson we learnt is working successfully with partnerships."

Referring to business levels, the CEO says last year it was difficult, but the company got through. The supply of labour into the kingdom was not easy. "That held back our growth programme. That is over now with the help of the Saudi administration," he says adding that AYTB’s growth target for 2019 is between 5 and 7 per cent.

Regarding the future, Hudson says he is ‘cautiously optimistic’. "We have grown year-on-year. We are a slightly bigger issue now compared with the past. We grew cautiously. We don’t want to grow too fast."

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