The big question: How can we encourage more businesses to export?

As highlighted at this year’s EIC Virtual Energy Exports Conference, pursuing an export strategy has never been more important. Expanding into international markets can seem daunting, so how can we help companies kick-start their exporting journey? 

Energy Focus puts the big question to four members

Colin Elcoate  
CEO at Alderley  

Exporting has been key to the success and longevity of Alderley. One recent example is our investment in Saudi Arabia to grow our international portfolio.  

In 2016, at the height of the oil price downturn, Alderley established a second and much larger facility in Saudi Arabia to support this growing market. 

Exporting is critical for growth and longevity

This investment gave us the physical capacity to meet the local demand; however, additional funding assistance – both working capital and bonding – was required.

Working with Lloyds Bank and UK Export Finance (UKEF), we continue to secure the support to take on and successfully meet this demand. As a result, we are now the primary supplier of flow measurement and custody transfer solutions for Aramco.  

With a strong relationship with UKEF and the Department for International Trade (DIT), and with coverage now in many international markets, Alderley has a broad and accessible customer foundation that means we can continually grow and are less susceptible to market changes.  

Exporting is critical for growth and longevity. I would encourage all budding and experienced exporters to engage with and leverage the support from UKEF and DIT, as well as industry bodies such as EIC. Alderley’s export experience would have been a lot more challenging without their help.

Alderley is a leading provider of skid-mounted, integrated solutions and services for the global energy industry. Repeatedly partnering with some of the biggest names in the industry, our solutions – including metering, produced water treatment, hydraulic controls, modular wellsite skids, chemical injection systems and through-life services – have been installed in onshore, offshore and floating applications throughout the world.

Emilio Renato Imbriani  
Managing Director at Indra

Indra established its position as a key player in its domestic market before developing its business abroad. Having a solid brand for the Italian national market was a critical factor in our exporting success.

The company provides customised valve solutions. Our attention to help customers solve their technical problems, flexibly and rapidly, has been fundamental in building trust between domestic customers and the key to attracting international ones.

Indra’s steady growth plan involved selling through agents at the start and slowly building connections with big engineering, procurement and construction players and end-users outside of Italy. In recent years, the company has been able to devote its direct sales resources to the export management, combined with the work of local agents.

The support from government agencies is fundamental for foreign market entry

As part of a global process, Indra has moved closer to the main markets, dedicating resources to be registered on project preferred supplier lists, while participating in events to publicise the skills acquired.

The support from government agencies, promoting a simplified bureaucracy, is fundamental for foreign market entry. They should encourage exports and recognise the quality and value of the products made. Uncertainty about Brexit is hampering the development of the UK market, but it strengthens our will to continue working on penetrating this market.

Indra is at the forefront of designing and manufacturing new concept instrumentation valves. Since 1987, Indra has operated according to high standards of safety and efficiency. The company is characterised by ‘Made in Italy’ and by the monitoring of all the production’s steps. Its products are used in the oil and gas, petro-chemical, chemical, power and LNG sectors.

Iain Smith  
Senior Vice President at Proserv Controls  

We work around the globe, and every market presents its own challenges. For any business looking to grow into new regions, it’s essential to thoroughly understand the prospective market and its opportunities extremely well before launch, and how this expansion integrates with the rest of the firm.

For instance, Proserv provides different solutions and technologies in varying regions, so that could be our measurement offering in the North Sea or subsea controls technology in the Gulf of Mexico. But each has its dedicated logistical support and supply chain considerations.

Having a comprehensive understanding of the market has helped drive the success of our service offering in the Middle East. We already had a large installed base of legacy equipment in the region, and we identified an opening to build a business around providing maintenance optimisation and helping locally-based companies improve efficiencies and their operations.

It’s essential to thoroughly understand the prospective market and its opportunities

Adopting a localisation strategy is another crucial factor. A business must show commitment to a region, establish a physical presence and build roots. This takes time and effort, but ultimately, as with Proserv, you have an opportunity to construct rewarding long-term partnerships with customers and collaborate with other service providers.

Proserv is a controls technology company incorporating two divisions: Proserv Controls and Gilmore, a Proserv Company. Proserv Controls encompasses subsea and topside controls solutions, field and design services, intervention workover control systems, sampling, measurement and renewables diagnostics. Gilmore is a specialist in hydraulic control valves and flow control solutions.

Dr Lars-Thilo Voss  
Head of Business Line Nuclear Power and Decommissioning at TÜV SÜD  

Following Germany’s decision to shut down all its 17 nuclear power plants, our options were to either focus on decommissioning (losing more than 50 years of expertise in design, planning and operation of nuclear power plants) or choose export as our growth strategy. Our passion for nuclear technology made international expansion a clear choice for us.

Exporting to multiple markets makes your company more stable and resilient in times of crisis, as you no longer depend on one market or customer – as we did. I would encourage any company to take this step.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation worldwide. With online meetings and remote inspections, digital channels are creating and facilitating new trade opportunities. Working from a different country is no longer an obstacle, and travel costs won’t ruin your budget.

Exporting to multiple markets makes your company more stable and resilient in times of crisis

Carrying out holistic market analysis and developing a solid delivery model, TÜV SÜD offices in the UK, Korea, China and Turkey continue to work together on growing our brand awareness and acquiring international projects. A crucial aspect of our success, my advice to companies planning to enter new markets is to build a stable network of experts that understand the culture in their target countries.

TÜV SÜD’s nuclear section is an independent service provider for assessment, inspection and advisory services in fields of high-risk potential technologies, focusing on activities related to the safety of nuclear facilities. Additionally, TÜV SÜD offers a comprehensive range of trainings in alignment with the entire nuclear power plant lifecycle, including ISO 19443.