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 KAZAKHSTAN International Business Magazine №4, 2009
 Argus Limited: Technologies of the future

Argus Limited: Technologies of the future

Alisher K. Tashmatov, Director of the Argus Limited representative office for Kazakhstan, answers questions from our magazine.

What sort of business is Argus Limited running today globally and in Kazakhstan, in particular?

It is now almost thirty years since our company engaged in the business of the supply to former Soviet Union countries of equipment, materials, and technologies for construction, repair, and restoration of pipelines and relevant infrastructure. It all started in Washington in 1981, when three friends, who already had experience working with the USSR by that time, launched the first company of what is now the Argus Limited Group of Companies. Today, Argus Limited with headquarters in Rockville (Maryland, USA), has representative offices, branches, and subsidiaries in Russia, Great Britain, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. The scope of services provided by the company has greatly expanded. These are engineering and consulting services, sale, rent, and lease of equipment, subcontract works, the carrying out of project examination and training courses. In some projects, we act as a system integrator.

For the time of its operation, Argus Limited has managed to develop partnership relations and become an official distributor of leading Western producers, and world leaders in their field of operation. I will just name some of them. They are Lincoln Electric, CRC-Evans, Canusa, Clock-Spring, Polyken, Vikoma, and many others. Our company is an associated member of the International Pipeline and Offshore Contractors Association (IPLOCA) and Russian Oil and Gas Builders Alliance (ROGBA). In October of 2007 Argus Limited was certified under the ISO 9001:2000 Standards. All our employees attended special courses on engineering and commercial matters. Moreover, American Petroleum Institute (API) and the National Agency for Control and Welding (NACW) attested many of them for a number of technologies.

Considering the fact that the Argus Group of Companies participates in all strategic projects of construction and repair of oil, gas, and product pipelines and relevant infrastructure in the CIS, Kazakhstan has always been a promising market to us. We frequently attended the KIOGE exhibitions, developed relations, entered into contracts, and starting from the year 2000 we began working more closely with Kazakhstani companies. At last, on April 17, 2002, we set up a representative office in Almaty.

An important milestone in the expansion of our business in Kazakhstan was the construction of the Kenkiyak – Atyrau oil pipeline in 2002, which was the first line of the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline. This was a very attractive project, as we had to introduce new technologies on the Kazakhstan market. We provided in full the welding equipment, and isolation materials to our customer, the construction firm JSC OGCC KazStroyService, which is currently the general contractor of the largest pipeline projects in the republic. Also, we conducted training and certification of the KazStroyService welders. The company is still providing services now. I would like to emphasize that in the course of implementation of the given project, the CRC Evans welding unit was used for the first time in Kazakhstan, and this is to the merit of our company.

After setting up the Almaty office, we decided to open a representative office and warehouses for storing of welding equipment and consumables in Atyrau. This was quite a logical step, since it is exactly in Western Kazakhstan that most of the oil and gas fields are concentrated. Here, there are offices of the leading Western and Kazakhstani operating companies. Today, when the pipeline construction sector demonstrates a considerable growth, including in Kazakhstan, we are proud that we are part of this process.

What other large Kazakhstani companies, besides KazStroyService, are you cooperating with?

Intergas Central Asia and KazTransOil successfully use our isolation materials and technologies in the repair of their pipelines. I would say without false modesty that these technologies are unique. For instance, with the help of Clock Spring sleeves one can repair corrosive and mechanical defects on an oil- or gas- pipeline without shutting it down and without application of auxiliary equipment or welding operations. This means that the customer will avoid both financial costs and labor-intensive operations, and the most important thing is that this does not impact on the environment, so typical for commonly used technologies. One more plus of the said Clock Spring solution is the mobility, allowing repair anywhere, even in the most remote parts of the pipeline or carry out a one-time repair.

In Kazakhstan, we also cooperate with companies such as Agip, Tengizchevroil, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, Caspian Pipline Consortium, TransAsiaConstruction, Kazstroypromtekhmontazh, Eletcro-KhSBM, Sert, and many others. We maintain active cooperation with mining companies and metalworks. I would like to mention our permanent customer in Kyrgyzstan, JV KyrKazGas. Jointly with this company we engage in modernization of existing gas pipelines and construction of new ones in the Kyrgyz Republic.

What are the competitive advantages of Argus Limited?

The Argus Group of Companies has a good reputation from its long history of operation, projects implemented at a good-quality level, and its attitude to business. Our company steadily adheres to the strategy, aimed to further increase the meeting of the foreign manufacturer’s products the domestic market demands. To intensify this process, we, jointly with the All-Russian Research Institute for Construction and Operation of Pipelines and Enterprises of Oil & Gas Sector (VNIIST), the All-Russian Research Institute for Natural Gas and New Technologies (VNIIGAZ), and the Kazakhstani Company Engineering and Methodical Center, conducted a number of events to adapt and introduce the up-to-date Western technologies in the field of construction and service of the pipeline transport in Kazakhstan.

Getting started on the work of every new task, we aspire jointly with our customers to carry out the maximum full scientific, technical and commercial examination of the project, taking into account the prospects considered by the customer, specific features of the project, deadlines for the carrying out of works, and industry development trends. The maximum satisfaction of the customer’s demands was and remains the determinant factor of our activities. We provide a full range of services from development of the project and relevant technical documentation, supply of machinery, equipment, and materials, the carrying out of assembling and commissioning works to the implementation of the project on a turn-key basis.

One more plus is that we engage in the training and certification of the customer’s personnel and it is worth noting that there are few companies providing this services on the market. In particular, in autumn of 2008 we launched a training, certification and service center in Gagarin (Smolenskaya Oblast, Russia), and in the coming couple of years we are planning to open similar centers in some cities of Russia and CIS countries.

We make every possible effort to make it easier for the customer going through customs clearance and to shorten the term of delivery of goods. We have managed to do this through the opening of intermediate warehouses in Finland, Estonia, Moscow, Toshkent, Almaty, and Atyrau. Here we store the goods which are in the most demand, in particular, welding equipment, welding materials, consumables, spare parts, and isolation material.

An important thing is that we not only provide a warranty service, but also a post-warranty service of the equipment sold. If necessary, our specialists can come to the customer’s place at any time of the day. Other companies cannot afford this; only big suppliers can do so.

Among the determinant factors is that that we have an individual approach to every our customer and take responsibility for the end product. Studies carried out by specialists of our company jointly with leading Western scientific centers and main sector-related Russian and Kazakhstani scientific centers often give rise to new ideas and approaches. This allows the manufacturers of the equipment to complete their products with features, adopting them to specific demands of the project. We constantly seek and propose to our customer’s optimum solutions, combining the maximum use of machinery and equipment manufactured by domestic producers, and the soft integration of new equipment and technologies into the systems, which are already in use by the customer.

What are the company’s plans for business development in Kazakhstan?

We intend to introduce on the Kazakhstan market not simply new technologies, but those marked by a new approach in principle, those which meet the present-day realities, which are cost-saving, but oriented to getting the highest result. The world economic crisis dictates new game rules. Our company expanded the network of representative offices within the regions and paid more attention to technologies where the HF influence is brought to a zero. The latter thing is caused, in the first place, by the lack of professionals in the sector. In many other things we, like many others, adhere to traditional approaches.

For the second year running we have been participating in the construction of the Asian gas pipeline, traversing from Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan, and then from Uzbekistan through Kazakhstan to China. We engage in project implementation both in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Our major customer is KazStroyService, which is welding two parts of the pipeline, each with a length of 650km. Recently, on August 8, 2009, the said company, by using the automated welding unit СRС–EVANS AW, broke the world record in welding of trunk pipelines. The KazStroyService workers during one shift, for 11 hours, welded 262 joints on pipe with the diameter of 1,067 mm. While the average rate of welding the joints on pipe of the given diameter is 15 welding joints an hour, this is not just good, but very good. So, this was the company’s contribution to the history of world pipeline construction. Using this opportunity, I would like to congratulate the OGCC KazStroyService staff with their good achievements. That was the achievement that has made us sure in the rightness of our selected goal: To offer to our customer’s equipment and technologies of the future, which are efficient, cost-saving, reliable, marked by good quality, and by this to contribute to further sector development.

The major directions of Argus Limited activities are:
  • Plants for internal and external isolation of pipes
  • Equipment and materials for automatic, semiautomatic and manual welding
  • Modern technologies for control of the quality of metal castings, welding joints and isolation
  • Equipment for excavation of trenches and backfilling
  • Equipment for trenches-free technologies
  • Equipment for cutting and beading equipment
  • Materials and equipment for isolation of pipelines, welding joints and tanks
  • Cathode protection systems
  • Equipment for testing the pipelines
  • Methods and processes of carrying our repair of the pipelines
  • Repair of operating pipelines without their stoppage
  • Hot tapping
  • Clearing and sizing pistons
  • Emergency oil spills response systems
  • Cross-country vehicles
  • Units for processing of waste of the petrochemical sector and oil producing sector

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