Upstream cable buyers guide

Global cable suppliers chase the Middle East's petro-fuelled market

Mike Smith, VP sales for MacLean Electrical, is based in Dubai.
Mike Smith, VP sales for MacLean Electrical, is based in Dubai.
Supply chain complexity is an important consideration as upstream cable vendors increasingly source goods globally.
Supply chain complexity is an important consideration as upstream cable vendors increasingly source goods globally.
Mike Smith says that the upstream business has taken a hit in the course of the last year, but is bouncing back.
Mike Smith says that the upstream business has taken a hit in the course of the last year, but is bouncing back.

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Global cable suppliers are chasing the Middle East’s petro-fuelled market. Helping you make sure you can get quality and reliability from vendors is the first Oil & Gas Middle East Cables Buyers Guide

Cables for the upstream sector represent a multi-million dollar industry each year. Greenfield projects offer the most potential, but constant repair and upgrades of oilfield equipment, pipelines and drilling rigs has kept the world’s leading cables providers buoyant despite the shelving of several big ticket projects.

Many global suppliers have scrambled for the Middle East’s petro-dollar, and that competition is only set to increase.

Badly managed supply chains and substandard cable manufacturing processes can blight a major oilfield project, so keeping expenditure down without jeopardizing a project can be a tough balancing act for a procurement manager. To make clear the issues involved, Oil & Gas Middle East has partnered with industry veteran Mike Smith, VP sales at MacLean Electrical Group (incorporating Noksab), to bring you an indespensable buyer’s guide.

MacLean Group is a worldwide provider of electrical products and power, control, instrumentation and fibre optic cables for offshore and onshore energy, petrochemical, process and marine applications.

What specifications should upstream customers be aware of?

MS: Correct specifications and appropriate current Industry standards are paramount for selecting the correct electrical cables for oil, gas and process onshore, offshore and marine applications. Although the basic make up of cable has not drastically changed over the past 50 years, what has changed are the properties of materials used in the manufacture which are constantly being developed with product longevity, protection against harmful elements and safety in mind. A number of recognised authorities and approval industry standards companies follow developments and ensure that before any written specification is approved, appropriate strict testing is carried out.

What research and considerations should a procurement manager be aware of in the current market climate?

MS: In the current climate where most of us are sailing in unchartered waters, procurement managers’ attention should be focused on ensuring quality and proven manufacture. When cost reduction pressures affect everyone, opportunities present for low cost manufacturers to introduce reduced quality and manufacturing standards, always to the detriment of the life expectancy of the cable and safety, whether for a new project or for maintenance and repair applications. The purchase price is not necessarily the actual cost, and when cable is purchased purely on the basis of lowest price, problems inevitably occur.

The primary component in any cable is copper, such a price volatile commodity in today’s market place. The appropriate means of ensuring the purchaser is obtaining the best price is by managing the copper value - a simple process available through any reputable cable supplier.

Other materials used in the manufacture of cable also have an effect on pricing. What is most important is to ensure that there is no degradation of the manufacturing quality or with the quality of materials used in the cable construction. Appropriate words of wisdom are “You get what you pay for”.

What criteria are most important when choosing your cable supplier?

MS: When choosing a cable provider, an organisation must have confidence in its supplier. This can be measured by experience, specialist knowledge, industry references and the ability to supply the necessary test and certification documents.

The opportunity to see and handle cable samples is also a useful way to measure the quality of a supplier’s products. Should time allow, a factory visit can prove extremely beneficial, providing buyers with a better understanding of the manufacturing processes and constraints as well as hands on feel for a supplier’s manufacturing capabilities and quality.

Where do oil and gas companies make mistakes in the cable purchasing sector?

MS: Mistakes are often made in the purchase of cables. Thankfully within the oil and gas market, a proven track record does show that, providing the specification and standards are fully documented, a reputable cable supplier will provide buyers with the confidence that they understand the requirements and will ensure that any possible oversight or more appropriate solution is proposed prior to manufacture.

Is the industry static, or are improvements constantly being made?

MS: The MacLean Electrical Group, through its cables specialist Noskab, has been successfully supplying all types of electrical, instrumentation and control cables for oil, gas, process, energy and marine applications for almost 40 years.

Along the way they have introduced innovative ideas, collaborated on technical improvements, provided commercial and technical advantage, constant improvements to manufacturing and documentation quality and have been a reliable source for application advice, matching the appropriate cable to a client’s application.

For any new project, numerous cable types and accessories are required and appropriate knowledge, experience and proven capability are essential to maximize the benefits for clients through effective manufacturing monitoring, distribution and cable management.

Involving a dedicated and reliable cables partner early in the project helps to ensure the best product for the application, most economic manufacturing lengths, reduction of surplus materials and product damage during the life of your project.

About the Author

Mike Smith is the Middle East sales vice president for the MacLean Electrical Group (incorporating Noksab). With 35 years experience in the global cables market, and 14 years in the Middle East, Smith is based in Dubai with clients around the entire Middle East region. MacLean Electrical Group has one of the industry’s most comprehensive project experience lists, recognition that the leading companies across the world who need to rely on high quality supply chain, make regular use of its services.


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