Petrofac flags challenges in Saudi Arabia and Iraq

The company has not revealed what are the challenges it is facing in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019

Petrofac flags challenges in Saudi Arabia and Iraq

  • Britain is probing allegations of bribery against Petrofac Ltd.
  • A previous executive pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery

British oilfield services provider Petrofac Ltd. said on Tuesday that it has booked $1.7 billion in new orders so far this year even as it faced challenges in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which has crimped its business.
Petrofac for the last two years has been navigating legal challenges as Britain probes allegations of bribery at the company. But the company has managed to sign multiple contracts and sell some assets to beef-up its core business.
In February, a former senior executive pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery in relation to oil deals in Iraq and Saudi Arabia as part of an investigation brought on by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
While the company has not been charged on any accounts, the convicting of former executives and top bosses being called for inquiries have hammered Petrofac shares. They lost nearly half of their value since the SFO first began its investigations into the company in May 2017 as part of a wider probe into Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy Unaoil on suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering.
Petrofac did not provide an update on the investigation on Tuesday and the company’s shares were down 2% in early dealings.
“We continue to maintain excellent client relationships in all of our markets, although new order intake in the year to date reflects our recent challenges in Saudi Arabia and Iraq,” it said.
Petrofac did not provide additional information on the challenges that it is facing in those regions.
The company also said trading was in line with expectations and it was well-positioned for the second half with good revenue visibility and high levels of tendering activity.


A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.