On the eve of gasworld’s MENA Industrial Gas Conference 2015, the event’s platinum sponsor Buzwair Gases continues to go from strength to strength in the Middle East gases business, and beyond.
Buzwair is a family-owned business, established in Qatar in 1954. In recent years it has grown to be a leading player in all facets of industrial gases and has extended its presence regionally and into South East Asia.
Here, in an exclusive interview with gasworld, Commercial General Manager of Buzwair Gases Mike Bee talks about the company, its hopes for the Middle East gases business, and what the future holds.
GW: What are the company’s core principles or objectives?
MB: We are committed to high levels of service, safety and quality in all our operations and our interactions with customers. We pride ourselves in establishing a level of trust in meeting customer demands and expectations. This solid base allows us to grow the business with confidence and determination.
GW: Buzwair is the platinum sponsor of this conference, and you clearly believe in the exchange of knowledge and ideas in the region. What are you hoping for from the conference?
MB: gasworld conferences always provide a good platform for the exchange of information and views that ultimately strengthens the industry’s presence and reputation. I am also attending the conference as the current president of the Middle East Gases Association (MEGA), with several presentations from our member representatives. If I could focus on one particular area of our business, it would be agreeing and implementing consistent and appropriate standards throughout the region to ensure all parties and stakeholders are protected and can use our products and services safely.
GW: Much of the focus in recent weeks has been on the expected lifting of international sanctions against Iran, and the industrial gas potential that may result. But do you think the gold rush in Iran overlooks potential elsewhere in the Middle East?
MB: No doubt Iran will be an opportunity and as a dynamic organisation, Buzwair is well placed to develop any opportunities that present themselves. However, this is only one component of our overall long-term strategy and we will remain fully committed to our core markets.
GW: When gasworld first visited the UAE (2007) some eight years and 15 conferences ago, we heralded the Middle East as ‘The New Industrial Gas Frontier’. Nearly a decade later, do you think the Middle East has met such expectations, or is it still emerging?
MB: The investment in production capacity by numerous players during that time has been more than significant, so I would say overall it has met the expectations – and certainly has for Buzwair. The region is still showing positive growth despite the drop in oil prices, and there are still some big projects to come through.
GW: What’s the single biggest challenge facing the Middle East industrial gases business in the future, in your view?
MB: I believe there are two, but they have a similar impact on the business - over-supply and political instability. Over-supply in the business forces prices to rock bottom, ultimately to below re-investment hurdles and limits operators’ ability to fully maintain their assets. Political instability increases the risk of doing business or interrupts it to the point of inefficiency. It is very difficult to reinvest in the business in both of these scenarios, in an industry that can only survive and thrive on the back of long-term capital investment and long-term stability in income streams.
GW: What challenges and opportunities lay ahead for Buzwair Gases?
MB: We have made significant investments over the past five years in Qatar with our Buzwair Scientific and Technical Gases division, our joint venture in Gulf Helium Services, and our dry ice facility. These, coupled with regional expansion initiatives, places Buzwair in a strong position to grow further and meet customer demands for quality and reliability in their operations. The challenge will be to consolidate these operations and give them the direction and support to expand. I am confident the team we have developed at Buzwair is well able to achieve these goals.
GW: Finally, what future do you see for Buzwair?
MB: Obviously a very positive one. We believe we do the right things well, have strong financials and investment capability, and a great team of people who are continually developing and willing to take on new challenges. I believe the next few years will see Buzwair go from strength to strength and achieve recognition and respect within the industry.
Follow the conference
Keep abreast of all the latest news, views and developments at the MENA Industrial Gas Conference 2015 via the gasworld website, updated throughout the day.
A full review of the conference will also be published in the upcoming January 2016 edition of gasworld magazine.