Gabriel Podskubka, Tenaris Eastern Hemisphere President, speaks exclusively to Energy Voice about the company’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the lessons learned, and its ambitions for the future.
How did Tenaris handle the Covid-19 pandemic?
Tenaris’ global presence and network played a key role in our ability to respond quickly to this crisis.
Our experiences in China and Italy, two countries where we have operations and that were among the first hit and severely impacted, helped inform our actions on a global scale as the virus spread.
We heightened our safety precautions, prioritising our employees’ health, while maintaining our commitments to customers, and helping our communities in their response efforts during these difficult times.
We also leveraged guidance from medical experts at Humanitas, a research hospital based in Italy and sister company of Tenaris. This led us, for example, to implement the use of facemasks in our facilities early on, worldwide, which today remains one of the most effective means in preventing contagion.
Our global supply chain was essential for us to deliver on our commitments to customers, minimising possible interruptions.
What did you learn about Tenaris during the crisis?
First and foremost, we learned that our ability to react quickly at the onset of Covid-19 was largely possible due to our strong safety culture.
We utilised our channels to continuously communicate with our teams, especially as many of our employees and customers continue to work remotely. Consistent, transparent communication is absolutely imperative in managing such situations.
Adaptability has also been important. We had to reorganise the way we work inside our plants and offices to guard against Covid-19 and remain effective in our operations.
We also used technology to maintain a strong level of support for our customers. For example, we introduced virtual pipe-running assistance to our customers when in-person assistance was not possible at rig sites. In addition, we hosted technical forums to engage our customers and highlight our product portfolio. Both initiatives included customers in the North Sea region and we had successful outcomes in both.
I believe it will be a continuous exercise to keep learning how technology can help us better serve our customers, especially in today’s market conditions and added pressures.
What are the company’s mid-term goals?
Our operations have been deeply affected by the sharp reduction in oil and gas companies’ levels of investment. Today, some parts of the world are still under lockdown, others being hit by fresh outbreaks or by second waves of infections.
Some regions might surprise us with a faster than expected recovery, like China, where economic activity recovered strongly in recent months. We are now looking at the US and Europe, whose recovery would give a great boost to the demand for energy, and consequently, restore confidence for oil and gas companies to invest again.
In short, we need to be prepared to face the Covid-19 threat – both to our people and operations – for an extended period of time, since recovery is not imminent, and it will take time to manifest.
Our long-standing strategy of strengthening our local presence in key markets continues to be relevant and essential to better serve our industry, especially in a world that is increasingly favouring local policies over globalisation.
Tenaris recently invested in expanding its presence in Saudi Arabia, Russia and the US. We now have to be focused to give value to these strategic moves.
We also believe in having a strong presence in countries that are key players in energy, such as the UK, Kazakhstan and Nigeria.
In addition, we are diversifying within our industry. Tenaris is supplying to the growing hydrogen and carbon capture and storage segments, which require our products for their infrastructure. These segments require sophisticated products that we are very well prepared to deliver. We believe in the long-term importance of developing the sectors that will support the ongoing transformation of the energy industry.
Most importantly, we need to understand how we can transform the way we operate. The digitalisation of the supply chain and our industrial operations will be a key point for our future development and our contribution to reducing cost and inefficiencies for our customers.
Tenaris is a leading manufacturer and supplier of steel pipe products and related services for the world’s energy industry and other industrial applications. The company operates an integrated network of steel pipe manufacturing, research, finishing and service facilities with industrial operations globally. For more information: www.tenaris.com