Tecon Engineering, promising prospects for market expansion
Tecon Engineering has started its activity in Romania in 2007. Since then the company has embarked on a strong growth period and continues today its strategy to expand the current activities in the local and international markets. Tecon provides engineering services for technology selections, conceptual studies, feasibility studies, basic & detail engineering, FEEDs, EPCM services, authority engineering, etc.
In a conversation with Tecon Engineering General Managers - Siegfried Gugu & Adrian Stoica, we learned about company’s key milestones in 2014 and its future moves towards a sustainable development.
Q: You have been working in the oil and gas industry since 1990, facing so profound changes in this field. What do you think the most important leveraging tools for the oil and gas market equilibrium are?
Siegfried Gugu: Well, I guess it is like in all other businesses, it’s the market. I have seen in more than 20 years of upstream activities highlights as well as lowlights. If I remember the late 1990s, when the oil price was below 10 USD and the forecast was to go even further down, a lot of companies hoped to survive rather than making any big business. Fortunately, for the upstream industry, the picture changed in the meantime and oil and gas are valued at an acceptable price, taken into consideration the amount of investment as well as know how that’s necessary to explore, appraise and produce the “black gold”. Or take the discussion about peak oil, how many “experts” have predicted the end of oil and gas and the bleak future which the industry will be facing. Again the picture changed with the start of the shale gas and shale oil production in the US, the industry has shown its capability to adapt to new situations (higher oil and gas price hence new technologies can be economically viable put in place).
In a nutshell I would say that given the right framework (actually the right price for oil and gas) new technologies will arise and further developments will be made. I am personally convinced that the technical progress will lead to developments which seem today impossible. If these developments are handled cautiously (environmental friendly, sustainable, safe,…) then – hopefully - our industry can also get rid of its rather negative image.
Q: In a sector (oil & gas) that strives for safety, reliability and efficiency, what is the imprint of processing engineering?
Siegfried Gugu: The whole upstream industry went over the last century a very long way. When you see today in old films the oil industry from the past, you can hardly find any similarity to today’s world. Oil and gas erupting in a big gush into the air, is a disaster rather than a success.
I am always saying that almost everything in upstream production is heavier and stronger than the human body. Therefore the design has to insure that this fragile human body is protected all the time.
Process safety, integrity and efficiency are the basis for all the rest. If you prepare during engineering the right process, the right lay out, you will at the end have the solution that fits to your demands. If you do it right from the beginning, when you have the biggest freedom, you do not need to correct your early mistakes; at a later stage they almost certainly will become expensive. We in Tecon firmly believe in this principle, that money saved on the engineering, will become very expensive later on, is it during project execution or is it then during operations.
Q: Recent developments in the domestic market place show a sharp increase in E&P activities over the past years. What are your specific solutions and benefits for this segment of the oil and gas industry?
Siegfried Gugu: It is true that the last years have seen a significant increase in upstream investments, national and internationally. The drive towards upstream can be easily explained with the achievable profitability as I indicated in the paragraph before.
We, in Tecon, can provide high class engineering exactly for this sector. Having a long lasting history of successful projects nationally and internationally, we can offer worldwide knowledge, know-how and experience combined with market specific prices. With our parent companies in Austria (Tecon Austria) and Germany (ILF), which are working since decades highly successful in the international markets, our staff has the possibility of international exposure. We strive for personnel exchange in projects and use always the best qualified people. Cooperation between Tecon Romania and Tecon Austria or the ILF Group do not need to be established, they are lived on a daily basis.
I personally believe that in the long run only the quality of the delivered work will be the decisive argument and we in Tecon are striving to achieve exactly this.
Q: Why did you choose Tecon Engineering in 2012 and what are your leading projects with the team/ over what period of time?
Siegfried Gugu: Well, after working more than 20 years in the upstream sector and in a big company, a change to an adjacent activity often helps to see the big picture. I experienced already during my post in OMV Petrom, where I was responsible for the service division, that the same situation seen either from the production side or from the service side, can be interpreted quite differently. My move from a big company to a – compared to OMV Petrom – small company, has shown me also the advantages of a smaller enterprise (e.g.: faster decision processes, slimmer organisation, ...).
Beside the continuous business in Romania, a main activity is to internationalise the client portfolio. Therefore a move towards North Africa and the Middle East has been made. With our now established offices in Saudi Arabia and Libya, Tecon has access to other markets and other challenges. This move has also a long term incentive for Romania, the local experts will have more and more the possibility to participate in international projects and gain there experience, which can then be utilised also here in Romania.
Q: Looking forward how do you see the industry in ten years in Romania and globally?
Siegfried Gugu: As already mentioned in my previous answers, I firmly believe that the future of the Romanian oil and gas industry is closest connected to the international oil and gas industry, which again is a function of the oil and gas prices. If the price level remain at the current levels or increase even further I see a very bright picture for Romania.
The onshore reserves are proven and further re/development of those resources will definitely come. The offshore side in Romania can have a very bright future, but here the final commercial prove still needs to come. I would also consider quite some potential in shale oil and gas in Romania, but in order to unlock this potential the public sentiment needs to change. It is the upstream industry, together with all the stake holders which have to find a common understanding, which can then lead to the first exploration activities for shale oil and gas in Romania.
Globally I see a few impacting issues. Firstly, I do not see in the foreseeable future a real alternative to oil and gas, therefore the demand for our products will remain high, secondly the upstream future will continue to be highly impacted by energy political decisions from governments and thirdly the strive for even stricter environmental protection and a move to more sustainability will be one of the main challenges for the upstream industry.
Q: Which is Tecon Engineering’s key milestone in 2014?
Siegfried Gugu: For Tecon Engineering Romania more than one key milestone exists.
First of all is the continuation and expansion of our current activities in the local market. Here we are focusing on diversification of our client and cooperation partner base. Additionally we will continue our international path, as described before.
The basis for this organic growth is the sound financial situation, which we have developed over the past years. We believe that an organic development brings – maybe not the fastest, but almost certainly - the more sustainable growth, which we are aiming for and which is also a main milestone in 2014 and thereafter.
Q: What are your main responsibilities in the company? What kind of projects do you conduct in Romania?
Adrian Stoica: The responsibilities of a manager are always similar regardless of the specificity of the company. There is the involvement in everyday business, in projects, in business development and so on.
We are basically care takers for the company. In Tecon, the responsibilities are a bit distributed. Where Siegfried focused more on the business development I was focused more on the technical matters, running projects, organization of the office.
Another responsibility of a manager which is extremely important especially in a design company is the organization and guidance of the entire personnel, of course through the project managers and the department managers. Having highly trained personnel which are well guided by their managers is always the best way to achieve success.
In terms of projects, Tecon is covering all the phases of a project in the Oil & Gas industry starting from engineering concepts going to detail engineering and finalizing with construction management and consultancy services. All these are done on the national market by competent engineers benefiting from the long lasting experience of Tecon in Austria and of the ILF Group worldwide.
Q: What is Tecon’s growth plan? Are there other parts of the world you would consider entering? Or maybe activities in other areas...
Adrian Stoica: Tecon has been continuously growing since 2007 when it came into the Romanian market. Starting from three - four employees in 2008 we are now at almost 70 employees from various disciplines covering completely the scope of any technical challenge.
So the future must bring us to the same direction of growth. But a natural growth, based on the actual market necessities. Let’s say that for the near future we develop a plan for Tecon to grow, maybe not so much in numbers but more on refining the quality and on type of services that we are providing. This is for the local market in which we are deeply involved.
Internationally of course there are certain plans of extending our presence in areas like the Middle East and North Africa. Recently opened offices in Saudi Arabia and Libya are seen as a good footstep in those areas in order to facilitate access to the abundant number of projects being developed there.
Q: What does Tecon Engineering mean for you? What was it like to become a successful professional within an organization like your company?
Adrian Stoica: For me Tecon was a big challenge and also a big chance that has been offered in early 2008 starting from a junior design engineer.
The big chance that Tecon offered to me and since then also to all of the members of the team was a very good exposure to international business both in terms of projects as well as in terms of organization. Implementing an international organization in a local company can be difficult but also quite rewarding.
That is the beauty of a developing company: it offers to its people a lot of opportunities.
Q: What do you consider the best practices to motivate all the team players are?
Adrian Stoica: That is always an important issue: team work.
First of all you need to have a team. And as a manager I believe that this is the most important task: defining and creating a team. If the people you are working with see themselves as a team then your work is 75% done. Only the rest 25% remains for constant motivation. And this motivation can come only from professional successes as constant challenges and the satisfaction of finding solutions within all projects.
As mentioned previously, Tecon is involved in a wide range of project phases. For certain projects we are performing the construction management and therefore we are a part of the final phases until start-up. It is always an immense satisfaction for me as well as for all the members of team to see the projects built and running, with a satisfied customer by our side. That is motivation!
Q: As a young manager I am sure you are looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. What do you think the most difficult thing about being an executive is and how do you intend to surpass this greatest barrier?
Adrian Stoica: There is no such “most difficult thing”. Every day is a challenge where you expect the unexpected and you as an individual and the company itself has to be prepared to rise up to that challenge especially in the Oil & Gas industry where the requirements are always changing. There is nothing difficult about it, it is just a matter of willingness and determination and of course having the right people in the organization.