Valve performance specialist boosts local workforce capabilities in Iraq and Kazakhstan

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Severn Valve Solutions (SVS) is empowering national workers and unlocking heightened efficiencies at oil and gas plants in Iraq and Kazakhstan.

Specialising in valve performance, compliance and reliability, SVS takes world-class valve engineering expertise to territories that need it most. Highly experienced expatriate valve engineers apply their skills and knowledge to enduring problems facing valve populations at established plant. At the same time, they train and mentor local engineers to boost their capabilities via an effective nationalisation strategy.

The goal is to boost productivity while enhancing and formalising the valve engineering skills of local workers so reliance on expatriate labour can decrease over time.


Valve engineering solutions

Rather than simply repairing valves, SVS teaches local engineers to take an holistic approach to improve the ongoing performance of valve populations. As well as addressing problem valves, the team looks at wider application and material issues. It also works strategically and methodically to ensure all valves are up-to-date with relevant certifications. This boosts efficiency and stimulates a cycle of continual performance improvement.

When setting up in a new territory, SVS invests in permanent local camps with workshops and training facilities. Expatriate employees also receive cultural awareness training, so they can quickly build positive and cohesive working relationships with local engineers.

In December 2016, SVS Iraq relocated to a new 2,000m2 facility with a purpose-built workshop and warehousing. Mobile containerised workshops are also provided for deployment in the field. These enable a quicker turnaround of valve services during shutdown campaigns and they can also be kitted out for specialist onsite activities such as greasing or instrumentation.

Oil and gas operators can contract SVS for ongoing site-based collaboration with in-house engineering teams, or on a call-off basis to address specific issues.


Territory spotlight

SVS Iraq has been active in the North Rumaila oilfield since 2012. It is under contract with leading players such as Rumaila Operating Organisation and Basra Gas Company to provide valve solutions while simultaneously training locals. In five years, the operation has grown from a two-man expatriate outfit to a 50-strong team, 48 per cent staffed by nationals.

Success stories in the region include the transformation of one operator’s approach to pressure safety valves (PSVs). Historically, problems with PSVs were a contributing factor to high levels of unplanned downtime. Soon after SVS was contracted, an audit revealed that more than 85 per cent required attention and 80 per cent were out of certification. PSVs became an immediate priority, with 15 per cent repaired or replaced upfront. Now the majority (94 per cent) are certified and the plant is running more safely and efficiently.

More recently, SVS has established a presence in Kazakhstan. It operates a 50/50 ownership model with Borkit, a leading Kazakhstani supplier to the oil and gas industry, and trades as BorkitSG. The business has the same principles and nationalisation goals as SVS Iraq, currently employing four expatriates and 11 nationals. As well as providing engineered valve solutions, BorkitSG draws on Borkit’s expertise in wider oilfield services and traded products such as rotating equipment.


Enduring success

John Kett, operations director for SVS, oversees operations at both SVS Iraq and BorkitSG. He says localisation strategies ensure valve populations function at their optimum level for the long term.

“Valve performance has a direct impact on overall plant performance, so it makes sense to invest in the very best global valve engineering expertise,” he explains. “The fact that skills are also transferred to the local workforce via a robust training framework makes the model even more compelling. At SVS our end goal is to empower local engineers to work independently with low level expatriate support. The path we take varies depending on the nuances of different territories, but the core ethos is always the same.

“In due course, our expatriates in Iraq and Kazakhstan will be redeployed to other territories. SVS adds most value in markets where advanced valve engineering skills are at a premium, whether that’s due to historic political issues or rapid growth of new processing industries.”

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