Amec Foster Wheeler to double its Saudi Arabia workforce

08 September 2015

UK multinational says it sees the Gulf state as a key market for expansion

  • Amec Foster Wheeler will double its workforce in less than three years
  • Currently the company has 450 workers in Saudi Arabia
  • The expansion comes amid concerns about the country’s economy

UK-based multinational consultancy and project management company Amec Foster Wheeler is planning to double its number of staff in Saudi Arabia over the next three years.

“The number of Amec Foster Wheeler workers in Khobar will increase over coming years,” the company’s President for Asia, Middle East, Africa and Southern Europe Roberto Penno told MEED in an interview.

“We are going to expand and we are going to create local capacity and local expertise to do more sophisticated work.”

Penno says Amec Foster Wheeler, which specialises in oil and gas projects, has identified Saudi Arabia as a key growth market.

“We need to double [the company’s headcount in Saudi Arabia] in a couple of years… that is the expectation. Probably within three years,” he said.

The comments come after Penno and Ameco Foster Wheeler CEO Samir Brikho met with the CEO of state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, Amin al-Nasser on 2 September.

Amec Foster Wheeler currently has 450 workers in Saudi Arabia working on a range of projects.

These include Saudi Aramco’s multi-billiion-dollar Shale Gas Development project, which saw its first package awarded to Japan’s JGC in August.

On top of contracts that have already been awarded Penno says Amec Foster Wheeler is optimistic about winning future projects.

“It think they [Saudi Arabia’s leadership] are very pragmatic and the sense is that the investment will continue,” he told Meed. “We already have the unconventional gas project… then there are opportunities in renewable energy as well as opportunities in environmental and infrastructure projects.”

“Saudi Arabia has forecast a shortage of power and they are planning to fill this gap with nuclear and solar power. We are interested in both and we are setting up ourselves to provide these services. We are optimistic that these projects will happen. The timing is less certain.”

Amec Foster Wheeler’s planned expansion in Saudi Arabia comes amid concerns about the country’s economy and the stability of its project market.

On 6 September Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf told the broadcaster CNBC Arabia that the country would cut spending in some areas and delay some projects due to low global oil prices.

Saudi Arabia has predicted a budget shortfall of $39bn for 2015, but analysts believe the actual figure could be much higher.

On 2 September the Saudi Arabian consultancy Jadwa Investment said it expects the shortfall to be around $109bn.

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