Sangeetha Ravisankar and Sindhu Srinivasan from Proserv’s Chennai base explain how the company’s teams in India and Qatar have delivered quality service on a key project, despite a volatile global situation and tight schedules.
What was the background to the project and how did Proserv contribute to it?
We secured a contract in the autumn of 2021 to deliver four multi-wellhead control panels (WHCP) and spares to a European oilfield service company working on behalf of a major subsidiary of one of the Arabian Gulf’s biggest national oil companies (NOC). The asset in question is a long-standing mature gas field and our WHCPs have been earmarked for use as part of a wide-ranging multi-billion dollar project to sustain production for the NOC moving forwards.
We have now delivered all four of the WHCPs to the client according to the timeframe requested, with some accessories also finalised and completed, to close off the project.
From our side, this was yet another example of Proserv teams coming together to pool our capabilities. Project management, procurement, engineering and expediting was provided from Chennai, with manufacturing and assembly undertaken at our facility in Qatar.
For the team in Doha this contract had been an important target and so in the lead-up to the bidding stage, colleagues across several sites worked together on cost and design optimisation exercises to make our bid as competitive as it could be. When we secured this substantial contract, it was a fitting reward for those efforts.
The Chennai team that played a key role in this project – Sindu Srinivasan (centre)
What were the key challenges faced during the delivery of this project by the Proserv teams?
With topside controls contracts, it is usual that final designs are not agreed even after a contract has actually been awarded. This is in contrast to what tends to happen with subsea wins and so, as this is a frequent aspect of our work, we need to be flexible and proactive at all times. Even before the request for quote (RFQ), we were receiving a number of technical queries from the client.
Though we submitted intended designs that November, final approval from the customer did not come until well into 2022. We held weekly meetings with the client to understand their requirements and to recalibrate our design proposals. So one of our core challenges was that negotiations have many moving parts: even while final designs are being drawn up, as the service provider we must think about supply chain considerations and lead-times – we have to stay ahead of the curve.
Specifically, this project required the purchase and delivery of Inconel, an exotic material. Ordinarily, you have to factor in a generous lead-time of several months for this high-performance alloy but we were additionally affected by multiple geopolitical and other global factors, from an unexpected military conflict in Ukraine through to the continued after-effects of the pandemic. These were causing serious supply chain and transit delays and bottlenecks, while price inflation was affecting such a high-quality material.
Our ability to multi-task was effectively being challenged by factors beyond our control. With the period taken to agree ultimate designs, along with the supply chain constraints, prices that we were seeing quoted for materials in autumn 2021 were not necessarily the same four or five months later, as global volatility took greater effect.
Keeping tight schedules on track required resourcefulness and effective, regular communication not only with the main client, but also with our vendors to learn about their own needs and issues regarding logistical factors and delivery timeframes.
Sangeetha Ravisankar pictured on a business trip to our Great Yarmouth facility in the UK
How critical was the support of Proserv’s Qatar team to meeting deadlines and adjusting to uncertain global supply chains?
We really acknowledge the tremendous support we received from our colleagues in Doha’s assembly team. The supply chain issues and severe uncertainty around shipping dates ultimately meant that most materials simply did not arrive in Qatar on time. It is then so challenging to devise a viable production schedule as there is no clarity about what will arrive when!
The Qatar team demonstrated real flexibility, assembling whatever materials and components that had been shipped, deliberately leaving others until they arrived. It was almost first come, first served. This kept the production schedule moving as effectively as possible. We worked closely together, as a hand in glove collaboration. So we would have a daily meeting and would plan out different tasks and how we could keep driving things forwards. The contingency planning was highly effective.
We must also add that this was very much a wider joint effort. Our Qatar team was boosted by additional support from both our Dubai and Abu Dhabi facilities in the UAE so that everything could be pushed forwards swiftly. It isn’t easy for colleagues to come together for the first time on such a key new project, but the agility and cooperation between groups was exceptional.
On one hand, we faced the time factor of a client that understandably wanted its wellhead control panels assembled and delivered as quickly as possible, while on the other we had to deal with such a volatile and uncertain delivery schedule and supply chain. It was a genuine learning experience.
Members of Proserv’s Qatar team in action
How did Proserv’s FRESH values help to overcome the multiple challenges faced and to ultimately deliver on behalf of the client?
This was a valuable and critical contract win and from before the RFQ stage we were, as mentioned, scrutinising how we could find extra competitiveness and value to strengthen the attractiveness of our bid by evaluating potential suppliers and vendors. The teamwork started at that preparatory stage.
But throughout, the Proserv values acted as a pathway to our success. The coming together and close collaboration of the Chennai and Qatar teams, supported by other colleagues in the UAE, was a great example of ‘Forward as a team’.
Working closely with the client to deliver regular design adaptations, reflecting its specific needs so that these plans were completely optimised, was underpinned by our ‘Right thing, right way’ approach.
‘Entrepreneurial spirit’ was an inspiration at every point – needing to estimate and guesstimate delivery times, expedite numerous tasks and to problem solve creatively, tapping into our contingency planning expertise. At the same time, the assembly team’s agility and ingenuity in Qatar was also vital.
When the client requested a last minute adjustment, potentially requiring a major design adaptation, the Chennai team took this in its stride and engineered a swift and innovative solution that required minimal alteration to key components and kept schedules on target.
All of these activities and challenges, approached with a proactive attitude, were guided by ‘Serious about service’. So much planning and trouble-shooting was undertaken to make sure we minimised the impacts from supply chain disruption and this important client was supported to the best of our ability.
This was augmented by our regular meetings and updates, to keep the customer fully in the picture as to progress and feedback – demonstrating the team’s commitment to ‘Help, share and communicate’. This was just as essential internally as the Chennai and Qatar colleagues pulled together, at every step of the way, to deliver this contract.
Our Senior Vice President, Iain Smith has provided a topical and thought-provoking opinion piece to Global Underwater Hub’s latest news magazine. Iain focuses on Proserv’s constant drive to “go further”, from forging partnerships to innovate disruptive subsea technologies through to establishing new product supply models for the market. Iain explains it is this philosophy that has accelerated our progress in the offshore wind space.