Drawing on our history of innovation to lead the Middle East to a low-carbon energy future
Sean Atkinson, Managing Director, ESB International
ESB International is extremely proud of our long heritage working in the Middle East and we are continuing to build our capabilities for the benefit of our clients in the region
ESB International is headquartered in One Dublin Airport Central, an ideal location for a company that has operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia.
Managing Director, Sean Atkinson, is a veteran of international operations, having worked in the industry for over 30 years, experience which is more important than ever during these times of uncertainty for many. The company he heads up works in partnership with clients around the world to deliver modern, efficient and dependable energy systems which transform economies and societies.
ESB International has a focus to further increase our client base in the Middle East, where it first established operations in Bahrain 44 years ago and is committed to continuing partnerships in other regional countries.
“ESB International has a long heritage of working in the Middle East,” says Sean. “While we have worked in most of the countries in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), our most consistent presence is in Bahrain where we are work closely with the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA). We have nearly 100 people in our office in Bahrain, most of them working with EWA on planning and engineering services for their transmission system. It has been the cornerstone of what we have done in the Middle East and a testament to our ability to deliver for our clients over an extended period.”
The company has also recently completed and handed over a major project for Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA). ESB International was responsible for the planning, procurement, design review and construction and commissioning supervision of the ALBA 1,400 MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power plant project that deployed the latest highly efficient H class machines.
ESB International has made significant inroads in the Middle East over the past 44 years. Key to this success, says Sean, is our deep-rooted vertically integrated utility background, which is an advantage over other engineering consultancies. That ability to see things from a utility perspective sets ESB International apart in the region and improves the service we deliver to clients.
“We take the capability we have as a utility and make it available to our clients and that is what differentiates us,” he explains. “We are one of the few utilities that is also an engineering consultancy. We are owned by a utility and are living these issues ourselves or have lived them in the past. We cover the full energy value chain and bring that experience and rigour to bear for clients. This industry wide depth of knowledge, combined with on-the-ground and local experience and our focus on ensuring local knowledge transfer is what our client’s value.”
That presence extends throughout the GCC, for example in Oman where we are working with policy-makers and leaders in the country who implement independent power producers (IPPs), de-centralisation and a spot price market. ESB International is currently embedded in the fabric of this diversification on a range of consultancy services ranging from technical advisory to strategic advisory across the full energy value chain from generation to transmission.
And there are other opportunities in the GCC region, according to Sean, many of the energy sectors in the region are undergoing significant change and evolving to a low carbon renewable model.
“The Middle East is very much talking to the low carbon agenda. Historically, they would have accessed the natural capital using indigenous oil and gas, but it is also a solar rich region as well and countries in the GCC have plans to lower their carbon footprint significantly in the energy sector. They see the opportunity to move not only to wind, solar and batteries but also to smart grids.”
With parent company ESB having launched its Brighter Future Strategy to 2030 to lead the transition to a low-carbon energy future based on clean, reliable, affordable electricity, the company is in a prime position to leverage this knowledge and expertise to help countries and utilities in the region to address the challenge of achieving a low carbon future.
“Energy is a cyclical investment,” says Sean. “Not every market is at the same point at the same time. The Irish energy market is at a specific point and ESB has gone on the journey to decarbonisation. We did a strategic review last year taking into account the changing energy market in order to ensure our business was structured to enable us to continue to deliver for our clients well into the future. We have closely aligned ourselves with the Brighter Future strategy which looks to the decarbonisation of the energy sector and we are now very much focused on this area of change.”
That renewable experience and expertise adds to our already considerable energy offering in the Middle East, from utility management projects to the delivery of transmission and distribution networks to advisory and consultancy services and promises to be a further differentiating factor in the years to come.
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