India offices add significant value to our global projects
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India offices add significant value to our global projects

India offices add significant value to our global projects

01 Apr 2020 Long Read

What began 100 years ago – an unwavering commitment to safety, accountability and customer service – is alive and thriving today.

Since 1915, Black & Veatch has delivered reliable, innovative, future-ready infrastructure solutions. The company has been supporting communities in India since 1915, and provides a full range of life-cycle solutions, scaled and adapted for the Asia-Pacific region. Rajiv Menon, Managing Director, Black & Veatch India, shares more on the firm’s operations and plans, in an exclusive interview with CW.

Tell us about services offered to the power, oil and gas, and water infrastructure sectors in India.

Our current landmark EPC projects are the LNG regasification terminal at Ennore for Indian Oil Corporation and India's first floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) liquefied natural gas import terminal for Swan LNG at Jafrabad. The Ennore terminal, with a send-out capacity of 5 mt, commenced operations last year, paving the way for supply of LNG to high gas demand southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu and some parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The ongoing Swan project will see the fulfilment of the EPC contract to deliver the jetty topside and onshore LNG facilities for the 5 mmtpa plant in Jafrabad. The new FSRU will be moored to a fixed jetty and re-gasify imported LNG to enable distribution by pipeline and road tanker.

Completion by a Black & Veatch consortium of a project at Prayagraj is one of our first contributions to ‘Namami Gange’. The project lays the foundation for the creation of new sewerage and wastewater treatment infrastructure, enhancement of existing sewers and treatment plant, and the long-term operation of the city’s wastewater system. The role of the consortium has been to establish a framework for the PPP concession to develop and manage the new infrastructure for meeting new wastewater treatment standards.

What are the complex challenges you foresee in the India market?

Many Indian infrastructure projects – including those in the power sector – are affected by time overruns, placing project viability at risk. Delays in land acquisition and site handover remain key reasons for schedule overruns during the pre-execution phase. Government guidelines to speed up the process plus the online clearance application system are helping address these challenges, but the problem remains stubborn.

With fragmented land ownership, resolving cost and compensation issues can take a long time.

Most water bodies, however, are owned by utilities and governments.

This can make floating solar an attractive alternative to land-based projects. If the floating solar array is built near hydropower plants and raw water reservoirs of thermal plants, developers can leverage existing power facilities, such as transmission lines. The EPC cost is higher for floating solar than onshore solar. However, with floating solar farms achieving additional generation owing to the cooling effects of water, the levelised cost from both forms of solar array is comparable. Offshore wind is another way in which land acquisition challenges can be mitigated, and it is among the most reliable forms of renewable energy. The further offshore you go, the better the wind resource; with fixed bottom wind being the norm for near-shore or shallow water, floating wind technology will be key to harnessing the wind flowing over deeper offshore waters.

Elaborate upon the company’s approach towards delivering safe, reliable and integrated solutions to projects in India.

We have identified four key areas that we believe make a difference in delivering a successful project.
  • Look for a strong safety culture. World-class safety programmes and project results correlate to successful outcomes on schedule, cost and quality.
  • Black & Veatch can bring global project management expertise that delivers seamless, predictable results. The ability to bring together EPC and commissioning activities in a seamless manner without gaps is critical. This starts with keeping the end in mind and pulling together all aspects of the project.
  • Look for an EPC company that encourages ownership engagement.
  • Seek a company with strong risk management practices.
  • How do you see the influx of various new technologies contributing to successful project execution?

    One way to mitigate operational complexities in integrated power infrastructures is through autonomous management. An autonomous interface can integrate core components of the grid to optimise power output. Core components of the grid include renewable and conventional energy; energy storage and microgrids. Artificial Intelligence (AI), with its capability to support analytics, forecasting and automated decision making, is key to the success of Asia’s energy transition. The large quantity of data collected by smart sensors is particularly useful for renewable energy applications. As wind and sunlight affect power generation production, sensors and smart grids ensure that renewable energy plants are operating to their optimal potential. This promotes grid stability while addressing the intermittent nature of renewables. At the same time, digital transformation initiatives such as predictive asset maintenance offer forecasting and real-time monitoring.

    One of the key offerings from Black & Veatch is ASSET 360. Operational plants are monitored remotely on a 24 x 7 basis by a team of subject matter experts. If there are any anomalies in the operational parameters, early warnings and proactive analysis are shared with the owner, helping the plant operations team to take quick steps to mitigate any potential issue. We have a well-equipped facility in Pune, staffed with Indian professionals, which helps projects across the globe in this area.

    How much does India contribute to the group company’s overall global business?

    Black & Veatch’s India operations are an integral part of our global setup. Apart from capturing and executing projects in the region, India offices also add significant value to global projects. Over the past few years, we have grown multiple times in terms of headcount, number of business operations, and financials. Apart from traditional areas like oil and gas, power – both conventional and renewable generation – and water, we are also active in areas like data centres, distributed energy and EV charging. We have executed various pioneer projects in these areas in the US and other parts of the globe, and are keen to utilise this experience and add value to projects in this region. We also offer management consulting services involving projects across the critical infrastructure areas of oil and gas, power and water through our Management Consulting business in India and Asia. Our revenues for 2018 stood at $3.5 billion – this included a significant contribution from Asia, including India.

    Fact file

  • Year of establishment of registered offices (in India): 2003 (Black & Veatch has been supporting projects in India since 1915 through overseas entities)
  • No. of employees: 800+
  • Segments of operations: Oil and gas, power, water, data centre, telecom and management consulting
  • Services offered: Lump-sum engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning (EPCC) or design and build (DB) basis; roles include owner’s engineer, lender’s engineer, detail engineering consultant, project management consultant and management consulting
  • Completed projects: IOCL Ennore, 5 mmtpa LNG Import, Storage and Regasification Terminal; Reliance Jamnagar DTA Refinery-Tail Gas Treating Unit (TGTU); 2 x 300-MW coal-fired power plant; among others.
  • Ongoing projects: Jetty topside and onshore facilities, FSRU-based LNG project; services for SO2, NOX, SPM and Mercury Control Systems for 2 x 600 MW Baradarha Power Station; AQC system installation at 2 x 300 TPH CFBC boilers.
  • Making Infrastructure Meaningful Over the years, Black & Veatch has made a meaningful contribution to India’s critical infrastructure. Here are some highlights:

    WATER

  • The Kerala Water Supply Project: The largest single water supply project in Kerala, the project served to augment and rehabilitate the water supply system in Trivandrum, Kozhikode, Pattuvam, Cherthala and Meenad.
  • Bombay Sewerage Project: Engineering and project management services for the Bombay Sewerage Project, serving a population of over 10 million.
  • Arsenic reduction in ground water; Delhi and West Bengal: The firm was appointed to assist the decontamination of groundwater in 150,000 wells in West Bengal. The wells were polluted with naturally occurring arsenic at concentrations significantly higher than the 10 µg/l value recommended by the WHO. The total population at risk was approximately 60 million.
  • RENEWABLE POWER
    Historically, the firm has helped the development of solar capacity through works like its owner’s engineer role for AES Solar’s 15-MW solar PV array in Charanka, Gujarat. This was India’s first multi-developer, multi-technology solar park.

    CONVENTIONAL POWER

  • Adani Group’s 5 x 660 MW coal-fired power plant in Tiroda: Owner’s engineer for the first supercritical technology-based facility in Maharashtra.
  • Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project: Project management, engineering, design review and technical services, including the completion of conceptual and balance of plant design, for a 3,960-MW pit-head, coal-based power plant in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Samalkot Power Plant: The firm worked with Reliance Power on a sole-source basis to design a 2,500-MW combined cycle facility. It also supported the design of a GIS and high-voltage cable system associated with the project. Samalkot is among the largest gas-fired plants of its kind in India.
  • GAS PROCESSING
    Reliance Petroleum’s Jamnagar Refinery is one of the world’s largest greenfield oil refining complexes. Black & Veatch successfully installed the three original sulphur processing units, and a later expansion programme including a new 3 x 675 mt per day cold-bed absorption sulphur recovery unit, and new common 2,025 mt per day tail gas treating unit. The expanded complex had a total sulphur processing nominal capacity of 6 x 675 tonne per day.

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