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The Middle East's EPC contractors cannot shy away from digitisation

Regional EPC stakeholders cannot afford to be on the sidelines as digitisation gains traction in the energy construction sector

Neha Bhatia is editor of Construction Week.
ITP Media Group
Neha Bhatia is editor of Construction Week.

Oil and gas project stakeholders – including engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firms – are being compelled to adapt and ensure their activities are in compliance with ever-evolving environmental needs.

Amid such market dynamics, technology is critical for EPC contractors, many of which were quicker to adopt digitisation than their counterparts in the civil or structural engineering sectors. 

One example is Worley, remembered in the Middle East for its work on the design and construction of the region’s first alumina refinery for Ma’aden Aluminium Company. The Australian engineering firm recently selected UK-headquartered Aveva to deliver a cloud-based enterprise resource management (ERM) system as its preferred materials management platform.

Even if the promise of improved efficiencies falls short – which is unlikely with top-tier contractors looking to cut costs and maximise resources in the Middle East and elsewhere – the scale of the energy market will continue to demand an evolution in EPC contracting.

The system, which has previously been used mainly for marine engineering operations, will be optimised by Worley and Aveva to perform as “the industry’s first cloud-based [ERM] platform purpose-built for EPCs”.

Phases 1, 2, and 3 of this technology upgrade programme respectively involved design, build incorporation, and integration and catalogue readiness. The final phase – now under way – involves launching the new platform and decommissioning Worley’s legacy system. Chief executive officer of Worley, Andrew Wood, said market evolution was the key driver behind the company’s collaboration with Aveva.

“The EPC market is undergoing a period of change and our customers are looking to us to help them find solutions in this new world. The advances in technology and digital disruption have provided us with an opportunity to rethink our approach to materials management.”

The need for a fresh outlook on technology investment is underscored by the size of the oil and gas market in the Middle East and North Africa region, which organisers of the industry trade show Adipec 2019 said in August was worth $859bn. The BNC Projects Journal: The Camel Economy report revealed that the value of new energy projects – including oil and gas, and utilities schemes – reached $9.2bn in July.

So, even if the promise of improved efficiencies falls short – which is unlikely with top-tier contractors looking to cut costs and maximise resources in the Middle East and elsewhere – the scale of the energy market will continue to demand an evolution in EPC contracting.

Worley’s collaboration with Aveva takes the contractor beyond the typical approach of mere technology adoption and firmly embeds digitisation into its life cycle. That a contractor with Worley’s legacy and track record of delivery is pursuing such a strategy is a strong message for the regional EPC sector. Are you listening?

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Construction Week - Issue 749
Sep 15, 2019