Against the backdrop of the developing Kazakh oil and gas industry, Peter Absalom, Operations Director of Novus Bolashak, highlights how the joint venture company drives local development for international success.
AT THE HEART OF KAZAKHSTAN
As an unheralded gem in the global oil and gas landscape, Kazakhstan possesses a wealth of opportunity in the production and movement of both these vital resources.
“There is always a certain anxiety for a new country like Kazakhstan, as it has only been around since 1991 after the break from the former Soviet Union,” introduces Peter Absalom, Operations Director of Novus Bolashak.
“It’s a huge land mass with a small population and is absolutely blessed with oil and gas reserves, catering to other developing industries such as power, mining and minerals, industry and infrastructure, life sciences, and technology.”
This aptly represents the importance of Novus Bolashak, which has existed as a joint venture (JV) between Novus Technical Services (Novus) and Bolashak Atyrau LLP (Bolashak) since it was established in 2016.
As a result, the company combines Bolashak’s extensive local experience, resources, and commitment to Kazakh content with the international experience and technical capabilities of Novus.
This makes the JV unique in the sense that Bolashak has been operating in the country for over 20 years and is the provider of the vital manpower that sets Novus Bolashak apart from its competitors.
DELIVERING SPECIALIST SOLUTIONS
The joint force of two industry titans has created a fully integrated engineering services and solutions business, which specialises in systems completion, commissioning, shut down, turn around, operations, and maintenance.
“Essentially, we take over when the construction of a project, typically in the oil and gas upstream sector, is finished. It’s our responsibility to get the facility, whatever it is, up and running so that the owners can start generating income from their investment,” Absalom outlines.
As a large corporate entity, Novus Bolashak operates across 19 countries and services 136 facilities worldwide. Additionally, over the past five years, the company has proudly completed 286 projects with a workforce of 8,500 employees.
“Our mission is to enhance the knowledge and expertise of our people, our clients, and the communities in which we work, ultimately delivering, completing, and commissioning safe, state-of-the-art systems,” he adds.
The aims and objectives of Novus Bolashak would not be achievable without an abundance of opportunities afforded by the Kazakh energy market across upstream, midstream, and downstream operations.
Significantly, the nation’s energy industry is intertwined with global oil and gas titans, who provide funding to companies located in Western Kazakhstan for sizeable giga projects.
An example of this is Tengizchevroil, who has the support of both Chevron and ExxonMobil in the US.
This is alongside Lukoil and KazMunayGas, whose engineering and financing essentially comes from Western partners. Additionally, North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) is supported by Shell and the Italian energy firm, Eni.
Meanwhile, Kazakh energy companies are forecasting huge plans in the movement of oil and gas which can be used as feedstock for downstream projects, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) projects, which are being developed locally on an impressive scale.
LEADING THE WAY
As the largest systems completion and commissioning project currently on the planet, Novus Bolashak’s future growth programme/well pressure management programme (FGP/WPMP) is the third generation of a 30-year operation developed by Tengizchevroil.
The venture represents the interests of internal companies in the Kazakh oil and gas industry, whilst utilising resources from across the world.
“The design of FGP/WPMP was conducted in the US, the UK, India, and the Phillipinnes. Meanwhile, fabrication was carried out in Italy, South Korea, and Kazakhstan, whilst construction work was carried out by contractors from Turkey, Greece, and Russia,” highlights Absalom.
Despite such a burgeoning global presence, the company holds its local community steadfast in its priorities.
“We have achieved an 80 percent spend on Kazakh content across the entire programme, which is a world-class measurement,” he proudly adds.
Key to the Novus Bolashak supply chain, its procurement has comprised 3,000 purchase orders in the local community, with a value of USD$30 million. Additionally, the company has issued over 40 contracts and has a forecast closeout value of approximately USD$400 million.
COMMITTED TO THE COMMUNITY
Evidently, Novus Bolashak’s impact on the local community and wider nation is immeasurable, especially when compounded by its many corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
For example, the company diligently supports low-income families and sponsors children in the neighbourhood through tertiary education, facilitating the upskilling of younger generations.
“We’ve got people in university today who are funded by Novus Bolashak, with the students recommended by the Äkim, the local mayor,” Absalom elaborates.
On top of this, the company runs social welfare programmes during annual holidays in which it provides less fortunate families with aid parcels. In this way, Novus Bolashak places itself at the forefront as a vital corporate citizen.
Its volunteering efforts extend to the distribution of gifts at the local orphanage. Commencing two to three times a year, the initiative provides an incredibly rewarding experience for the company as it has a memorable impact.
Novus Bolashak is also heavily involved in a vast range of community development projects in conjunction with the local administration, ranging from landscaping an area with trees, to refurbishing a building which the council had developed into an old people’s home.
Another recent example includes the development of a children’s playground in the local town of Kulsary, in the Atyrau district in, southern Kazakhstan.
“We’re doing this not because the local council can’t afford to do it, but because it’ll get done quicker,” Absalom informs.
“By bringing in somebody from the industry as a sponsor, you avoid all the red tape of the local administration going to the federal government for approval. We can circumnavigate that by volunteering to help.”
Finally, Novus Bolashak provides further aid to the local government by sponsoring quasi-government organisations, who require further support from private industry bodies.
“These are businesses associated with our industry that are always looking for help. I am proud to say that we are front and centre of this initiative as a gold sponsor.”
ENHANCING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
With an unwavering commitment to its employees, Novus Bolashak has invested more than 350,000 hours in craft training to ensure that its staff can efficiently complete the job and subsequently progress further in their careers.
“To support our 5,000 people on-site, we have an office in Atyrau comprising approximately 120 people, of which six are expatriates, and the rest are local.
“Therefore, our business is tied to the surrounding community, with department managers in human resources (HR), procurement, training, mobilisation, who are all outstanding,” Absalom gleefully tells us.
Earlier this year, the company decided to strive for a range of ISO accreditations, including 9001, 14001, and 45001. This is a rare achievement for a JV company, but Absalom believes it was necessary to showcase the world-class work of the organisation and how its staff go above and beyond.
Eventually, Novus Bolashak became fully accredited thanks to the fantastic work of 10 staff volunteers and the commitment of the local people.
In return, the company put the respective volunteers on a course to become an ISO auditors, so that each individual could benefit from its success.
“I am proud of our staff who have a huge appetite for work and tremendous capabilities, whilst working in a foreign language,” Absalom reflects.
FINISHING THE JOB
As the company looks towards 2024, its main priority is to complete the FGF/WPMP project, as this is critical to the shareholders and the nation overall.
“Once we have finished the development of oil production in the Tengiz field, we’ll move from 400,000 to one million barrels a day.
“That’s what we call a world-class oil field as there are not many other global competitors producing one million barrels a day, which is our biggest priority going into 2024,” states Absalom.
On the back of this success, Novus Bolashak strives to develop a sustainable business in the country, in conjunction with both international and national organisations.
This will bring forward the next stages of oil development, particularly in the realms of onshore and offshore production, as well as the downstream phases of PET.
Regarding the latter, this includes the development of polyethylene plants, polypropylene plants, butadiene, and rubber plants, which are all industries that depend on gas as a feedstock, facilitated by the work of Novus Bolashak.
“We want to develop the industry so that Kazakhstan can develop from domestic and export revenues, and subsequently transfer this success abroad. Incidentally, we’ve got clear targets for similar giga projects in the US, Canada, Guyana, Qatar, and many other countries,” concludes Absalom.