x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Slippery going for facilitator in oil sector

The Life: Ryan McPherson faces a tough challenge: how to get oil and gas companies in the Gulf to collaborate on technology. The director for the Middle East and Asia Pacific region of the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF), explains how he does it.

Ryan McPherson of the Industry Technology Facilitator says growing the brand is the main challenge of his job. Ravindranath K / The National
Ryan McPherson of the Industry Technology Facilitator says growing the brand is the main challenge of his job. Ravindranath K / The National

Ryan McPherson faces a tough challenge: how to get oil and gas companies in the Gulf to collaborate on technology. The director for the Middle East and Asia Pacific region of the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF), a UK non-profit group that has expanded into the UAE, speaks about how receptive regional companies are to the idea of working together.

ITF will hold its first GCC regional cluster meeting to discuss the opportunities and challenges of technology collaboration next month. How open are companies to the idea of working together here?

Some absolutely are. Others are maybe trying to see where it sits within their business model. You can't shy away from the elephant in the room in terms of [having] that competitive advantage. If there is something they feel that they have competitive advantage in, [some] wouldn't want to, just in case they accidently disclose something. But in this industry, you are never going to do everything in isolation. I think in some cases there is a degree of scepticism.

Why do you think that is?

[The companies] are operating in different countries, which have different set ups, and also, they are very busy here - and not everyone knows each other, regionally and even sometimes in the UAE.

What is the main challenge you face in your role?

Growing the brand, making people aware what ITF is and how it can help them. When you go to an event and somebody gives you a business card from Shell or BP, you don't need to ask. You could see the logo and know exactly what they do. I hand out a business card and [I am asked] what does ITF stand for? What do you do? How do you fit in with what we do as an industry?

Is it frustrating?

I'm well versed enough now in going through the stories … but it is one of those things that when you talk to people and they understand the concept they really like it and they wonder 'why is this not better known in terms of the industry or my company?'.

Which companies have you signed here?

We don't have anyone within Abu Dhabi as of yet. We have been in extensive dialogue with [a few companies], but they are not quite into membership yet.

How has it been, trying to get in the door of some of the companies locally?

Abu Dhabi has been great in that it has totally enhanced the relationship we have [with regional members like Kuwait Oil Company and Petroleum Development Oman], and we can spend a lot more time with them. Some of the other companies have been great in the sense that we have been able to get in and speak to them. But it's almost trying to get the right person within the organisation who either has the budget or sees where this fits within the organisation.

gduncan@thenational.ae