Saudi Aramco Review

Welspun makes headway in region within 3 years

The company’s HSAW mill in Dammam – which originally began operation in 2006 under the Aziz European Pipe Factory name – today has a manufacturing capacity of 350,000 metric tonnes per year of pipes ranging from 18- to 100-inch outer diameter

IT IS approximately three years since pipe manufacturer Welspun Middle East started operations in Dammam Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, following the 2010 acquisition of a 50.01 per cent share in Aziz European Pipe Factory by Welspun’s Indian parent company Welspun Corporation.

Since then, the company has successfully replicated the $3 billion listed corporation’s outstanding capabilities – honed on prestigious projects across the world – into the Saudi arena, in doing so forging a reputation as one of the Middle East’s largest and most accomplished spiral pipe manufacturers.

The company’s HSAW mill in Dammam – which originally began operation in 2006 under the Aziz European Pipe Factory name – today has a manufacturing capacity of 350,000 metric tonnes per year of pipes ranging from 18- to 100-inch outer diameter, with a wall thickness of up to one inch and a length of eight to 18 metres. The product meets API 5L specifications up to Grade X-80, is approved by ASTM, AWWA and Saudi Aramco, and meets all leading international standards, says the company.

An offline welding capability, the only one of its kind in the Middle East, is also available.

The company also operates a coating mill in Dammam with a total capacity of 6.13 million square metres per year of external (three-layer polyethylene/three-layer polypropylene/fusion bonded epoxy, single and dual layer) and speciality coatings.

In-house testing facilities are also available to complete all client requirements, the company adds.“Our slogan is ‘dare to commit’. That courage to commit to absolute excellence and client service permeates every facet of the operation, and is an integral part of Welspun’s global corporate philosophy,” says Akbar Umatiya, vice president and unit head, Welspun Middle East.

Such ‘courage’ has served Welspun Corporation well to date. Today, it is widely considered to be one of the world’s largest large-diameter line pipe companies, and it is now playing a strategic role in Saudi Arabia’s development.

“We operate in a sector which is vital to this country’s economy, and as a result we have an obligation to provide world-class products,” says Umatiya.

A key beneficiary of Welspun’s quality-driven approach is Saudi Aramco, with whom it has forged a lasting relationship for more than a decade, originally serving the oil company from India prior to the 2010 acquisition of Aziz.

“When we acquired the Saudi business in 2010, the pipe mills did not meet Aramco standards. We had to upgrade the entire operation, investing in state-of-the-art technological expertise, testing facilities and skilled human resources.

“We were essentially replicating Welspun’s proven business model at plants in India and the US to Saudi Arabia,” he says.

Welspun Middle East’s pipe and coating mills achieved Aramco pre-qualification on the last day of 2011, with the first order – for a small quantity of pipes on an urgent delivery basis – coming just three days later.

“We were able to prove to the client our ability to deliver against short lead times. Since then the relationship has been founded on trust,” says Umatiya.

A more examining test of Welspun Middle East’s capabilities came in 2012, when Aramco awarded the company an order for the rehabilitation and coating of 240 kilometres of oil pipeline. Uniquely, Umatiya recalls, it was the first time in the oil company’s history that it had awarded a combined bare pipe and coating contract for both services.

Welspun passed the test with flying colours.

“As our first major Aramco contract, the client closely monitored the quality of each production line and process, and at each inspection stage we provided a level of comfort to the client,” he says.

Other orders from Aramco have followed. Most recently Welspun Middle East delivered an order for 130 km of X70 grade pipe, with 56-inch diameter and 15.52 mm wall thickness, for gas pipelines.

Since 2010, Welspun Middle East’s relationship with the national oil company has extended to technical and training programmes for Saudi Aramco staff, conducted at its Dammam facilities, as well as research and development activities relating to steel pipe, conducted in conjunction with both Aramco and the King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM).

Welspun also provides seasonal summer training for KFUPM students.

In addition to Aramco, Welspun serves with distinction other large clients in Saudi Arabia, supplying Saline Water Conversion Company directly, cost-effectively and in a timely manner.

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