Local competition for the many major construction projects is keeping prices down and Costain has identified the associated consultancy opportunities as being more attractive. As a consequence it is looking for experienced people to fill senior project and programme management consultancy roles in the Arabian Gulf.
Regional development director Tim Bowen moved to the Middle East late last year with the task of expanding the company’s range of services in the Gulf. He has found that there is no shortage of potential work.
In 2013 alone, infrastructure and development projects worth over US$350bn (£223bn) are planned across the countries that belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Bowen said that the work will require consultancy services, whether in providing engineering solutions or delivering integrated consulting and operations and maintenance services.
“We’re not looking for construction contracts, even though there has been no shortage of opportunity in that regard,” he said.
"Costain has the scale, skills, experience and financial strength necessary to secure and then deliver these large and complex projects, but at this time, the price point competition from some Asian contractors mean that there’s no point wasting our valuable bidding resources when there are many commercially preferable opportunities in professional services,” he said.
He added: “We’re looking to work more on a consultancy basis, either on our own or as part of a joint venture with another company. But our biggest constraint is the availability of professionally qualified, experienced people, ie those at the most senior level, because these projects are vast and will include working at the cutting edge of engineering technology.”
Places like Qatar present enormous opportunities. The state is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup and plans to put in place extensive infrastructure in order to meet its ambitious growth plans. Contracts are now starting to be awarded as Qatar plans to invest US$200bn in infrastructure development over the next 10 years, with over US$100bn expected to come in the next five years as it gears up for the World Cup. The projects include new roads, highways, bridges, airport, a new seaport, and a new rail and metro system.
This investment is part of a broader vision to meet the state’s growth and infrastructure needs beyond the FIFA World Cup. The president’s executive office of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) recently announced that more than US$30bn would be allocated for the implementation of over 700 projects to meet the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030.
Costain’s ambition in the region is in line with 'Choosing Costain,' the Company's strategy to deliver a full-service offering, from front-end engineering consultancy and design, through construction to back-end care and maintenance. In the Middle East, the emphasis will be on offering a consultancy service, which is why experienced specialists are required to fill the senior roles.