Serving mission-critical projects with custom fuel storage and management solutions, we discuss premium products and future growth with Project Lead at Fuelchief, Hamish McLean
Writer: Phoebe Harper | Project Manager: Josh Hyland
Fuel is the undisputed lifeblood of industries - it is the lubricant that keeps the cogs of global supply chains turning.
In the realm of the Southern Hemisphere, the transportation of fuel within Australia and New Zealand (NZ) requires a convoluted network composed of rail, road, pipelines and waterways, with coastal shipping transporting large volumes of fuel to inland population centres.
As the world continues to weather the ongoing energy crisis, largely triggered by the far-reaching impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the global energy system, fuel has become a fraught topic, overridden by the problem of escalating prices and fuel shortages. For countries that rely on imports for the majority of their fuel supply, this creates a heightened level of vulnerability.
In light of the uncertainty in fuel security, the conservation of this vital resource has never been more critical.
“There is no stakeholder unaffected by the disruption and change of the past two and a half years; however, it is all about how you move with the disruption and find the opportunities that emerge with change.”
Doing just that, Fuelchief is an established leader in the storage and management of fuel, operating primarily from its base in Christchurch, NZ. In the NZ refuelling market, Fuelchief enjoys a reputation as number one in aboveground fuel storage, with a similarly strong presence across Australasia and the Pacific.
With a significant monopoly over fuel storage and management solutions, Fuelchief is bolstered by over 40 years of experience in constant innovation, quality sourcing, and unparalleled customer service. This latest emphasis showcases Fuelchief’s commitment to making the entire customer journey, from enquiry to delivery, as streamlined as possible, ensuring the safe and hassle-free management of fuel.
The company’s construction prowess in developing liquid fuel storage and management solutions caters to a myriad of industries, serving the needs of logistics and freight, mining, civil construction projects, aviation, marine industries, and many more.
For Hamish McLean, Project Lead at Fuelchief, it was this variety and potential that initially attracted him to the company, despite being a “relative newcomer” to the oil and gas industry.
“I was drawn to Fuelchief simply by the opportunity to become part of the management and ownership of a growing business in a dynamic industry – a company that had a unique product, lots of room to grow, and was expanding and going places.”
Since McLean joined in 2017, Fuelchief has certainly delivered on its mission of ‘going places’, cementing a strong footprint along the east coast of Australia and throughout NZ, with a global customer service team on hand for support. Within the next few years, Fuelchief will continue to explore new territories in Singapore, Indonesia and Asia-Pacific as it pursues a trajectory of growth and gaining new business. This is already in action, as construction is currently underway on a brand new 4,500 square metre manufacturing facility to increase its capability.
Fuelchief prides itself on its quality production portfolio, showcasing robust manufacturing and durable solutions – either in fuel management, or fuel storage.
The company’s range of fuel tanks and fuel management systems (Sapphire) ensure fuel is stored to compliance and monitored down to the very last litre. Such products include the Vanguard double skin tank range, AXI smart fuel polishers, and bespoke tank top access.
Fuelchief’s flagship product is the Supervault four-hour fire-rated and multi-hazard fuel tank. This particular tank showcases unique features, as the only four-hour fire-rated sub-base belly tank on the market, enabling the company to configure fuel storage either inside or very close to buildings.
These buildings typically house mission-critical projects that require back-up generators and the necessary fuel storage, such as hospitals, data centres, defence and research facilities.
“Owning the main IP and license to build the Supervault in the southern hemisphere means our clients have ultimate peace-of-mind in a fully accredited product and supplier,” shares McLean.
Indeed, these premium products are the basis of Fuelchief’s success as a supplier of choice, demonstrating the “expertise” the company has acquired over the years, which McLean identifies as its greatest differentiator. Not only this, but also “the ability to share this with our clients.”
Such premium products, coupled with the company’s dedicated commitment to fruitful working relationships with its clients, is an industry-leading combination.
“Fuelchief is much more than a supplier – we engage with all stakeholders in a project to understand all of the implications; including compliance to the regulations, whole cost-of-life, access, ease of operation, and above all resiliency and efficiency,” he tells us.
McLean’s reference to resiliency encapsulates the very essence of the Fuelchief mission. It is a concept he returns to, highlighting the word’s definition - ‘the ability of a system or organisation to respond to or recover readily from a crisis, disruptive process, etc.’ - as the pivotal concept behind what Fuelchief does.
“At Fuelchief, our vision is to build resiliency into energy infrastructure,” he says. “We do this by bringing innovation to fuel storage to ensure continuity of supply in mission critical projects.”
Indeed, when handling such projects, their very nature demands sustainable solutions that are robust and guarantee longevity, ensuring the continuity of supply. This resiliency walks hand in hand with the notion of efficiency.
“We realise efficiency gains in energy storage and energy infrastructure for our clients and customers by injecting expertise and personal experience into getting the fuel storage equation correct – right from concept to developed design to procurement and delivery.
“This could be inside or outside of the building, and Fuelchief can help save space, construction time, and cost when involved throughout a project,” he continues.
In today’s society, there is one particular field of mission-critical projects that has well and truly risen to the fore as an area that calls for a Fuelchief solution.
“Nowhere is this more needed than in a data centre project when you consider the natural disasters, armed conflicts, and cyber-attacks that occur around the globe today.”
A DATA-DRIVEN FUTURE
Although the COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted the globe’s supply chain to an unprecedented degree, the digital demand resulting from this time of limited mobilisation has also created ample opportunity.
“The growth in cloud services is not significant just for the company but for the globe,” states McLean. In the face of this digital evolution, data centres have come under increasing pressure for secure data storage.
With Fuelchief’s overriding commitment to resiliency, such projects have provided a welcome area of growth. This year alone, the company has set an ambitious target of securing projects totalling 2.1 million litres of storage in the Australia and NZ data centre market.
“This growth has been a welcome contrast to other sunset industries,” he tells us. “However, one of the most important factors for data centre companies today is speed to market and the need to be efficient with the construction side.
“Fuelchief recognised this need, and we strengthened our generator fuel storage focus to bring a space-saving, more compliant, modular type approach to these projects. We are on a mission to make this part of the project the fastest way to the safest, most robust and most compliant fuel storage solution on the planet.”
Continuing this note of adaptability, Fuelchief has also incorporated confidentiality as a foundational concept when undertaking such work, signing critical non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as early as possible and maintaining this critical factor throughout all stages of the project to ensure trust and confidence with clients.
With an exciting future ahead, undertaking new projects and entering new spaces, Fuelchief will continue to fulfil the crucial need of fuelling resiliency in the energy system.