Monday, February 15, 2016

Power Up! Q&A with Altaaqa Global's Julian Ford

The February 2016 issue of Construction Machinery Middle East featured the major players in the power projects sphere, including Altaaqa Global. Julian Ford, Chief Commercial Officer, spoke about the challenging industry and shared his insights on the sector's outlook.

What is the background of Altaaqa Global? 
What ‘market gap’ did you set up to target? 

In 2004, Saudi conglomerate Zahid Group formed Altaaqa Alternative Solutions in Saudi Arabia to provide temporary power services to the country. It has grown to be the largest Caterpillar power generation fleet owner in the world, and the premier rental power services provided in the Kingdom.
With the desire to replicate the success of Altaaqa Alternative Solutions on a global scale, Zahid entered into a Global Power Projects (GPP) agreement with Caterpillar and formed Altaaqa Global in 2012. Altaaqa Global was appointed by Caterpillar to deliver multi-megawatt turnkey rental power projects around the world.

Since then, we have widened our geographic coverage, opening branches in Bangalore, India; Nairobi, Kenya and Johannesburg, South Africa. We have also secured several contracts in key regions across the globe, including the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Which market segments do you operate in? 

Altaaqa Global owns, mobilizes, installs and operates large-scale rental power plants tailored to customers’ specific applications. We are in the position to rapidly deploy fuel efficient, scalable and reliable multi-megawatt temporary power plant solutions.

Our technologies find application in a wide range of industries, including utility power generation, utility power transmission & distribution, mining, oil & gas, petrochemicals & refineries, government & NGO services, ports & harbours, and process industries.

What’s your current fleet size? 

Altaaqa Global and Altaaqa Alternative Solutions have a combined fleet power capacity in excess of 1,600 MW. The fleet includes generators running on diesel, natural gas or a combination of the two.

Being part of the global Caterpillar dealer network, we also have access to the power generation fleet of our co-dealers anywhere in the world, giving us exceptional fleet capability and flexibility to meet even the largest customer demands.  

Julian Ford, Chief Commercial Officer, Altaaqa Global

You’re supported by Caterpillar dealers around the world. 
What does this mean in practice when it 
comes to mobilising for a big project?  

In addition to our own in-house capabilities, as an authorized Caterpillar dealer, Altaaqa Global has access to the wide range of technical, engineering, logistical and service/maintenance resources of other Caterpillar dealers around the world.

In mobilizing for a project, for instance, we may tap the power generation resources, technical & engineering expertise and logistical facilities of the local Caterpillar dealers where we operate, or of any Caterpillar dealer around the world. We also have access to locally available parts and can call for local maintenance service or technical support. Thanks to this synergy, we are able to provide for a quick and efficient installation of power plants and ongoing support for projects anywhere in the world.

What sort of relationship do you have with Caterpillar’s product development team, when it comes to providing feedback on existing products, modifying your current fleet, or wishlists for new product development? 

As an authorized Caterpillar dealer, we work closely with the Caterpillar product development team to share perspectives of customer requirements in the power rental business. In this way, we expect to further improve our already-competitive position to meet the evolving needs of our customers.

How popular are your gas-driven solutions in the Middle East? Do you see this product sector growing? What are some of the constraints on this sector, and will they be overcome in the foreseeable future? 

Though it is expected that the diesel generator market will continue to grow and that diesel will remain the preferred fuel in the next several years, we are noticing the gradual growth of the natural gas and dual-fuel generator market as natural gas becomes available. The growth of the market is supported by the increase in unconventional gas resources in many countries not only in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world, and by the lower operating cost afforded by running power plants on gas or gas-diesel combination.

In the past, fuel availability and the costs of installing safe and reliable fuel delivery infrastructure have hampered the growth of the natural gas generator market. Today, gas is becoming increasingly available and gas generation technologies progressively find application in bigger and longer-duration projects. The availability of dual-fuel generators, which significantly simplifies the transition from diesel-run to gas-run generators, is also helping overcome these obstacles.

You’ve said that you want to be ‘the leading and the most preferred temporary power solutions provider before year 2020’. What are some of the industry chances you see coming over the next five years? How do you make sure to ‘future proof’ your business? 

The role of temporary power has evolved from being a local, short-term, transactional activity to a major global project-based industry. It is no longer uncommon to see power plants of 100 MW and up being rented on a longer-term basis. We expect that the diesel generator market will continue to thrive, and that the natural gas market will continue to gain traction.

To keep abreast of the opportunities in the coming years, we will continue to hone a highly skilled, motivated & experienced, world-class, power projects team. At Altaaqa Global, we strive to lead the evolution of the industry, and to be recognized as the premier source of innovative technical solutions and the highest level of customer service and support.

Do you see any likely trends in the power projects sector as a result of oil companies looking to trim costs?

While the fact that the prevailing oil price makes generators cheaper to run is an advantage in theory, we have to remember that the requirement for generators is proportional to the rate of economic activity. At present, the prices of oil and commodities are suppressed, and this is having a negative impact on the interest on power generation services. We, however, expect the industry to rebound quickly as and when economic conditions improve.  


Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

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