Caspian Energy CEO: How long have you been working for Tekfen Engineering and how did you come to this company?
Bayram Erdogan, Azerbaijan Branch Office Manager, Tekfen Engineering: I have been working for Tekfen Engineering for about 3 years. Tekfen Engineering opened a branch office in Azerbaijan early in 2013. Since Tekfen Engineering established an office in Azerbaijan, I have decided to change my company and join Tekfen Engineering. The representative office has received a license which made it full authorized to make carry out engineering activities in the Azerbaijan’s market. So, it was how I started to work at Tekfen Engineering.
Before joining Tekfen Engineering I had worked for an international company which also operated at the market of Azerbaijan. I worked and lived in Milan for more than 5 years. Then I moved to come here. Some people are asking me why I left Milan and came to Baku. The thing is that I like Azerbaijan. I love Baku. Maybe it is all because of the similar culture that we have. Moreover for me it is comfortable to work here. I find Baku much better than many European cities. Here you are at the seaside, but in Milan there is no sea, only historical buildings/areas. But in Azerbaijan you see a combination of a seaside, beautiful nature, modern structures and buildings with an old historical city. There is also a beautiful boulevard here extending for many kilometers along the Caspian Sea shore.
CEO: What has been the impact of the present market situation on the activity of Tekfen Engineering?
Bayram Erdogan: Anyhow oil prices and crisis affected all companies in the market. It is not affecting us directly because we are not an oil company. But we are working with oil companies engaged in the oil-gas sector. So when they reduce, postpone or stop implementing their projects, it certainly affects us. But Tekfen Engineering is a company which, in addition to the oil-gas sector, is involved in other business areas as well. The range of services cover implementation of projects on road and railways, tunnels, bridges, trunk Roads, crossings, traffic management systems, industrial, commercial and office buildings, etc. So it provides us a certain advantage, when the development of the oil and gas sector slows down. There are many other opportunities in different areas and projects. For instance, we were involved in engineering activities of the Baku Olympic stadium. We partly took some engineering works for the SOCAR tower project. We do engineering work both for the oil and non oil sectors.
CEO: How would you assess the competitiveness of Tekfen Engineering at the market?
Bayram Erdogan: Tekfen Engineering is a private Turkish company. We have a similar culture and language with Azerbaijan, which provides us advantages at the market. We intend to work in the local market, hire local employees, enhance their skills for the future and keep expanding our business on the market. We have achieved most of it over a three-year activity. But it is not a limit for us. I would like to note some big projects. The project on construction of the platform is currently underway. To date, the contstruction of three platforms at ATA (Azfen-Tekfen-Amec) yard have already been completed and engineering activities mostly performed abroad by third parties. This is the first time the platform engineering is performed in Azerbaijan. We highly assess Azerbaijan’s potential which is why we started implementing these projects here. We have trained local workers and already gained big success about their carrier developments/skillsThis project is going well enough and we proved we are capable of implementing those kinds of projects in Azerbaijan with local engineers/designers. . If the client is satisfied, so we are. This will help to develop this kind of projects by using fully local sources in Azerbaijan for the future.
CEO: And are you satisfied with the local personnel?
Bayram Erdogan: Of course we are satisfied. Moreover, I am very happy to work with Azerbaijani employees who are very educated, professional and what is the main, responsible. It is one of the reasons why I decided to work here. I have been here before and witnessed the potential and capabilities both of Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan in general. Therefore, I tried to be here.
CEO: Which projects are currently being implemented by Tekfen Engineering? What could you tell about international plans of the company?
Bayram Erdogan: We have already completed the Baku Olympic Stadium project. We made engineering works where our sister company Tekfen Construction was the main contractor for this Design&Build Project. Apart from this, we did the engineering work of the SOCAR tower project where Tekfen Construction was the main contractor. Now we are working over two platforms in Azerbaijan. 120 local employees were trained by our specialists for this purpose. We trained them how to make platform design and how to use the special programs for this purpose(3D modelling, Tekla Steel Structure). So, all of it is at stage of development. Apart from this, about 90% of the engineering works that is carried out at Sangachal terminal has already been completed. Engineering Activities within the framework of Shah Deniz-2 are expected to be continued in June-July of the next year. There only construction operations will be continued and we will probably lend them support.
We are also interested in projects aimed at modernization and energy efficiency projects in Azerbaijan. Hope that we will get a chance to work together with SOCAR again.
The holding of such joint projects contributes to the development of economy, as well as strengthening international relations, including the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey. We also believe that our cooperation will extend and strengthen the conduct of cooperative activities in areas of common interest and encourage the application of the results of such cooperation to economic and social benefit of both states.
As far as the international market is concerned, the focus should be made to Iran which is very close to Azerbaijan. I can say that it is a good advantage to have office in Azerbaijan in this case. The Iranian market is very promising at present. We could employ workforce from Azerbaijan if we had certain projects in Iran. I find them capable enough to have them involved in Iranian projects.
Apart from this that Tekfen Engineering started applying a computer aided design (3D modeling) in 2009, especially for technological operations. The company took an important step on its way to an interdisciplinary integration and achievement of supremacy in the field of engineering.
CEO: What do you prefer doing at leisure time?
Bayram Erdogan: In the firstyear of my stay here I was familiarizing myself with the city, sights, culture, etc. In the second year I started learning about the whole country. I visited many districts of Azerbaijan and very enjoyed the nature beyond the city. I really liked Sheki, Lahich, Guba and Ismayilly. I also would like to note a fantastic waterfall Afurja. To my regret, I still have not managed to visit such districts as Lankaran and Lerik but I plan to do it in near future. I think I should certainly visit these wonderful places of Azerbaijan. I also like walking in the Baku boulevard and breathe fresh air. I have recently started taking golf classes. There is a very good golf club in Baku.
I can say I like Azerbaijan, I like Azerbaijani people and I am happy to be here. I really believe that Azerbaijan has a great potential for the future too.
I was very impressed when I arrived in Baku first. If I am not mistaken, it was in March 2012. I did not expect to see such development rate. Since then I have started showing interest in history of Azerbaijan. For me it was of interest to learn about things that happened in history of Azerbaijan. Looking through the whole history, one can see to what extent the country has changed within 20 years and how broadly it keeps developing. It is a great development strory. I am confident that the results will be more impressive in 20 years.
Thank you for the interview