UK's Petrofac hires Bain & Company to explore North Sea business

31 January 2018

Bain & Company has been hired by British oilfield services company Petrofac to explore options for the group’s North Sea operations. This could include the sale of Petrofac’s North Sea operations, as the firm looks to stabilise itself following corruption allegations and the accruing of high levels of debt.

Petrofac has lost about half its value since May, when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) commenced an investigation into the company and its units. The organisation has a current market capitalisation of £1.45 billion, amid the UK SFO’s investigations for its dealings with Monaco-based Unaoil, and has been struggling to reduce a $1 billion debt pile. The group also saw its CEO, Ayman Asfari, face down allegations of insider trading in Italy, recently, however UK courts backed the embattled Petrofac boss, ruling that he was not served notice of the charges levelled against him by the Italian authorities.UK's Petrofac hires Bain & Company to explore North Sea business

Oilfield service companies had also been hurt by weak demand in recent months, as subdued oil prices forced exploration and production companies to cut capital expenditure and defer or cancel contracts. In spite of this, Petrofac, which designs, builds, operates and maintains oil and gas facilities, said it secured $5.2 billion in new orders over 2017,  and it continued to see a high level of tendering activity in its core markets. The company also claimed its backlog stood at $10.3 billion on November 30 2017, reflecting a recovery in new order intake.

Petrofac is a provider of oilfield services to the international oil and gas industry. It is registered in Jersey, with its main corporate office on Jermyn Street, London. The group has reportedly been mulling the sale of its North Sea operations, amid several charges of corruption across its practices. At the end of 2017, the British press reported that US oilfield services companies Schlumberger and Halliburton, as well as a Middle Eastern company were among those circling Petrofac, with an acquisition bid being values at around 600 pence per share.

In order to weigh up its options, Petrofac has hired Bain & Company. The firm is said to be helping the group explore its options for its North Sea operations – options which include a potential sale. Neither Petrofac or Bain have issued a comment on the hire, although in the case of Bain, it is standard practice for consulting firms not to comment on pending client work.


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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.