Sarens in Iraq – An interview with Ayman Zuhair
Sarens' country manager in Iraq reflects on opportunities in the region
9
August 2017

This month, Sarens is putting the spotlight on Ayman Zuhair, our Iraq country manager.

Iraq has been a busy region lately, with major projects happening at the Rumaila Oilfield in Basra, southern Iraq. There, Sarens has been moving an oil rig for ROO-BP NV Iraq and has recently completed the third move. Operators have also been transporting and installing oversized and overweight dehydrators and desalters at the oilfield using SPMTs, conventional trailers, and cranes.

Read our interview with Ayman Zuhair to find out what's next for this exciting region:

Could you tell us more about the Iraq division? 

The division was established in 2012 in Basra, which is in southern Iraq. We provide both rental and project services and engineering (including engineering study and lifting solutions).

We started with four employees and grew to 54 by the end of our first year. Today, we have around 90 employees. We also have 32 pieces of equipment, including: 

22 mobile cranes 30t-350t

  • 2 crawler cranes 70t
  • 4 trailers 80t-250t
  • 4 x 6 units SPMTs

I started with Sarens as a joint venture party. I was the owner and managing director of Basra Oilfield Services Company (BOFS) at the time. After selling that company, I joined Sarens as a shareholder and country manager in 2013. Since then, I've put my efforts into building long-lasting relationships with clients and business authorities, investing in our fleet of equipment (by adding SPMTs and mobile cranes), finding new business opportunities, and investing in our staff.

I'm proud of all we have achieved in these five years. Sarens in Iraq has become the reference for Belgian companies who want to enter this market, according to the Belgian Embassy in Amman (which administers the affairs of the Belgian Embassy in Baghdad).

We are also active in community initiatives, including:

  • Speaking to and motivating students at the College of Technology-Basra University
  • Participating in events that support families of martyrs and victims of terrorism
  • Participating in initiatives of the Iraqi Independent Alumni Association, organized by the American Consulate in Basra
  • Participating in Rebuilding Iraq Exhibits since 2004 

How do you visualize the current market and its outlook? 

In the years after 2003, the country has been in the process of rebuilding, which includes our key market in Iraq (oil and gas).  

The oil and gas industry has been in the foundation and infrastructure stages, but now the installation and real expansion has begun. This sector is currently the biggest source of business for heavy lift and transport in Iraq. That includes shutdown and maintenance of degassing stations, oil pipeline expansion, water injection station maintenance, and more. This expansion of Iraq's oil and gas segment will require Sarens to provide higher-capacity equipment in the country so we can fulfill our clients' needs. 

We believe that Sarens will be awarded a yearly contract for heavy lift and heavy transport at the Rumaila Oilfield, which is the biggest in the country. We have already completed the pre-qualification request and communication is ongoing. 

What are the opportunities you see in the Iraqi market? 

Oil rig moves are a major opportunity. We've done the first rig move of its kind at the Rumaila Oilfield, saving the client time and money by dividing the rig into two pieces and transporting it in about three days. The old method required disassembling the whole rig and moving it over a period of two weeks. 

Another opportunity is the installation of heavy items such as LPG bullets and reactors. This will be the trend for the next stage in Iraq's oil and gas industry. 

What are some of the challenges you face in this business environment? 

When cooperating or communicating with international companies, we understand each other because they are familiar with the international standard. But when it comes to working with local companies, we often have to explain our standards and procedures and why we have to follow them. However, some of the local companies have evolved and developed after years of experience. 

Can you tell us more about your business model? 

Our core business is the rental of heavy lifting and transportation equipment on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis, in all sectors and markets. We also bid for projects throughout Iraq. 

In the past few years, we have been building a strong foundation with clients, strengthening our relationships so that we are the first they think of and contract when it comes to heavy lifting and heavy transportation. We see the customer as king, and we treat them accordingly. We strive to keep our customers satisfied, and of course satisfied customers buy more.  

We want to be the reference for heavy lift and heavy transport in Iraq, and to expand our fleet of equipment by adding higher-capacity cranes like the CC2800. 

Adapting this strategy, we have managed to sign our first two direct contracts with ROO-BP NV Iraq this year. Our client has also promised to involve us in a pipeline expansion project by Q3 of 2017. 

Do you have any new projects in the pipeline? 

We've signed a long-form contract for rig moves for ROO-BP NV Iraq, as well as for a D&D (desalters and dehydrators) project. We also bid to work for Petrojet to transport and install an LPG tank and thermal oxidizer, which would involve the import of LR1750 into the country.  

Additionally, we have yearly agreements for equipment rental Al Karrar Company and Tashyeed Engineering Company. We also have a yearly agreement for engineering studies with Al Badia United Company. 

What do you see as Sarens' key strengths? 

Safety, quality, reliability and the ability to provide the perfect solution are the key strengths of Sarens in Iraq. Our performance in Iraq has depended on applying QEHS rules in all activities, finding the best and most cost-effective solutions, building trust and long-term cooperation strategies with clients, and being the reference for heavy lifting and heavy transport in the region.  

Globally, we are true to our values across all 60 locations and our zeal for excellence, brilliant solutions, dedication to safety, love for tradition, and global spirit have gotten us to where we are today.