Interview with Wartsila Company's Vice-President: Azerbaijan's oil and gas sector opens large opportunities for Wartsila
Baku, Azerbaijan, June 10 /Trend, A.Badalova/
Trend Interview with Vice-President of the Finnish Wartsila Company Christoph Vitzthum.
The Wartsila Company has almost two centuries history of activities in various industries. Today the Company is one of the world leaders in solutions for marine and power industries. The Company realized many large-scale projects in Azerbaijan, including the construction of modular power plants in the regions of the country and the largest in Sangachal.
Trend: How do you assess the projects implemented in Azerbaijan? Will the company continue its cooperation in the energy sector of the country? Are there plans to implement new projects in the country and if yes, what projects?
Christoph Vitzthum: Our projects in Azerbaijan have been implemented very successfully. About a year has passed since the beginning of the first construction work to launching of the first five stations. This is an extremely short period not only for Wartsila, but for the industry as a whole. I believe that the reason for success is fairly good level of partnership with Azerbaijan.
With regards to future projects, we are surely interested in expanding our business in Azerbaijan. We are constantly conducting discussions with clients in the country for new projects.
Q: What are the company's plans for this year and next?
A: It is important to note that in addition to the sale of power plants or installations for ships and facilities, Wartsila also provides services for their follow-up support. This is a responsibility that is very serious for us and is our way of doing business. After the construction of five power stations in Azerbaijan, as well as two more at a later stage, we immediately proceeded to the creation of our post-sales services in the country. We hired here about 90 highly-qualified specialists. I can say that this is the best service center in the Caspian region. This is something we are very proud of, and we will continue to develop in the future.
Q: Which spheres are the highest priority for your company?
A: I believe that our activities are determined by the priorities of the country. Of course, electricity production remains an important sphere. But the oil and gas sector is important, involving a lot of pipeline projects, which are considered in the region today. This sector also offers great opportunities for us.
We must not forget the offshore market, where Azerbaijan has many plans in the sphere of shipbuilding. It would be correct to point out that every third ship in the world was equipped with engines of the Wartsila Company. We are the market leader in the field of marine solutions. And this is a field of activities that we would like to expand in Azerbaijan.
Q: One of Wartsila's activities is marine equipment, designed for all types of ships and offshore facilities. Has the Company plans to cooperate in Azerbaijan in this regard?
A: Definitely, this is a sphere in which we want to cooperate. We have a lot of positive experiences in countries where the activities in the field of shipbuilding develop. We have experiences in South and South-East Asia, South America, where the activities in the field of shipbuilding are developing as in Azerbaijan. I think the experiences that we have accumulated over the years, give us a good position for the formation of various kinds of cooperation in this field.
Q: A new shipyard will be built in Azerbaijan over coming years. Will the company participate in this project?
A: Definitely, I hope so. We are expanding the full range of our services in the field of shipbuilding in Azerbaijan. We want to cooperate with the country in the field of ship designing, equipment selection, as well as providing shipyards with technical expertise.
Q: How is the company interested in the delivery of its equipment within oil and gas projects in Azerbaijan? What work is being done in this direction?
A: There are many opportunities in the offshore and onshore projects in the oil and gas sector in Azerbaijan. For example, we conduct discussions with SOCAR, and this is a sphere where we have observed very big opportunities.
Q: The Company opened a service center in Azerbaijan in 2008. How are the activities of this center successful and demanded?
A: We have service centers in Baku for over 10 years. And in 2008 we opened a new service center. As I said, this is the best service center in the Caspian region. We are developing it to make the service center a full range of services for the benefit of our customers and the company itself in the region.
Q: Today in the world, one of the perspective directions in the energy field is the development of alternative and renewable energy sources. Are there any perspective operating time of the Wartsila Company in this regard and how much is the Azerbaijani market interesting in this regard?
A: We often like to say that we are those who are able to promote renewable energy. We enable countries to integrate renewable energy in their energy systems. Renewable energy is fickle. For example, the wind does not always blow, the sun does not always shine, the biomass is not always available. And then you need something that could support the electricity production capacity. Equipment is necessary which could quickly and flexibly run at startup and stop. We are very interested in this matter, and conducted discussions on these topics with the Ministry of Industry and Energy of Azerbaijan. Renewable energy is one of the areas in which we participate in the discussions in Azerbaijan.
Another sphere is liquid bio-fuel. Those of our enterprises, which use the oil products as fuel, can also use vegetable oil and animal fat. This sphere can also be promising for the country. Discussions on this sphere are at an early stage, but it's better to look ahead.
Q: In late May, Wartsila signed an agreement to establish a joint venture to produce diesel engines in Russia with "Transmashholding". What are the prospects of this project? Will the products sold only in Russia or are expected to be exported from the country?
A: The agreement on the joint venture was signed last month. To start the joint venture operation will take some time. Our intention, of course, is to get a result from this project, and then consider other markets.
Q: How do you assess the current situation of your business in the conditions of global financial crisis? Did the crisis affect the activities of Wartsila in general, and did it affect Company's projects in Azerbaijan, in particular?
A: Of course, the financial crisis has affected our business. During the financial crisis, the activities on new orders in the field of shipbuilding significantly reduced. This affected our orders for new equipment.
The crisis has affected less our business in the electricity production sector. The demand for energy is very large in the world. Yes, we had less orders due to financial problems. But this is a market we are looking at with a considerable degree of optimism, even during the financial crisis.
Our business was not affected significantly in Azerbaijan. I think that Azerbaijan's economy was extremely strong and resistant to the financial crisis.