The Berkeley story began when two vastly experienced oil and gas sector engineers, Irteza Piracha and Mujteba Piracha, both chartered in their field, left their employed roles to go it alone. They believed they had what it took to create jobs and offer something different. They established their own consultancy, Berkeley Engineering Consultants (BEC) – named after Berkeley Square, itself named after John Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley of Stratton, where they established their office. Within a very short time, BEC won contracts to provide process engineering and construction support to two major international oil players in Africa and Kazakhstan.
The Queen’s Award for International Trade represents the latest milestone in BEC’s journey – a major achievement as one of just over 200 companies recognised from more than four million registered businesses nationwide.
A commitment to innovation and excellence in all areas has seen BEC become a global preferred partner to many leading names. BEC has some 500 employees, without whom this growth would not be possible. “This award is the result of the support and commitment of our company staff, and we are indebted to them and their families for the belief they have shown in the Company’s vision” states Irteza Piracha the current CEO.
BEC successfully competes with listed companies for major projects in extraction, refining, processing and petrochemical production, with significant annual export sales.
“Although we were based in the UK, our ability to work globally has been vital from day one,” explains Irteza Piracha.
“We were – and are – flexible enough to support projects anywhere worldwide, but our key market is the Arabian Gulf and our localisation initiatives, together with knowledge transfer from the UK, placed us ideally to work on major projects with key regional players.”
Gaining a foothold in the Arabian Gulf
In 2009, BEC received a call which uniquely impacted its progress. The UK Department of International Trade invited BEC to the Two Kingdoms Conference, a significant event attended by major oil and gas sector names.
The event saw BEC meet senior representatives of Saudi Aramco, the leading producer of energy and chemicals that drive global commerce and enhance people’s daily lives worldwide.
Discussions continued day and night, creating numerous exciting opportunities to work with Saudi Aramco and its affiliates. With the support of local Saudi partners, BEC established a solid reputation with Saudi Aramco, laying the foundations for its ongoing success.
“Our flexibility and breadth of knowledge were integral to winning these contracts,” continues Irteza Piracha. “In this sector, every project is unique, and our approach mirrors that, through our range of services and scope of expertise.”
A broad and flexible range of services
BEC’s focus is on process engineering design, helping clients select the safest, most efficient and cost-effective options for their facilities. Services include front-end engineering design (FEED); dynamic simulation; debottlenecking; commissioning and decommissioning support; health, safety & environment (HSE) and ad hoc technical support.
FEED projects typically involve concept selection and feasibility studies, enabling next-phase contractors to move seamlessly into detailed design without rework or redefinition.
BEC also specialises in detailed engineering and dynamic simulation, creating customised unit operation models to solve project life cycle challenges before the system is built. The team also oversees all areas of commissioning and decommissioning, drawing on extensive plant troubleshooting experience to optimise start-up times and minimise production outages.
For established processing systems, BEC has vast experience of reviewing capacity and identifying bottlenecks using advanced software, compatible with clients’ own systems. This approach recommends practical solutions to optimise productivity. Other areas of expertise include Process Safety and Risk Management - everything from HAZOP/SIL, Quantitative Risk Assessment, Fire Certification and training in addition to technical support to enable engineering procurement construction contractors complete work packages on time.
Continued growth and recognition
This flexibility and broad skills base was clearly demonstrated in BEC’s next growth phase. 2011 saw BEC start working directly with UK companies while embarking on local engineering support for clients in refining and upstream oil production globally. 2012 saw further major commissions from Sabic, Saudi Aramco and its affiliates, encompassing various services with a focus on engineering support for crude and refined product pipelines and complex in-plant debottlenecking.
BEC was officially recognised in 2013 by the UK Government for its growth and pioneering approach, with Irteza Piracha invited to 10 Downing Street to meet David Cameron, the 12th Prime Minister in the reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Building for the future
BEC’s drive for growth and global reach has continued to gather pace, while remaining true to its belief in people, offering them a long-term career opportunity, wherever in the world they are based.
The company’s owners are focused on bridging the gap between experienced engineers and new entrants to the sector, ensuring the vast well of accumulated knowledge is passed on.
The company still operates from its global HQ in Berkeley Square, with a dedicated engineering office in Reading. As well as three offices in Saudi Arabia – strategically located close to its clients at Rabigh, Yanbu and Khobar, where its team are managing multiple projects – BEC maintains permanent bases in India, Pakistan and South Korea, with presence in Nigeria and Kazakhstan.
The most recent addition to this list came earlier this year with the opening of an office in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, to support rapid growth for BEC in this market. The official opening was performed by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, His Excellency Hamish Cowell, and attended by numerous other Omani dignitaries and oil and gas sector decision-makers.
Irteza Piracha concludes: “Establishing a dedicated Oman office was a logical next step, given our strong pedigree in supporting major projects in the Gulf and continued growth of the Omani market. Providing local support remains integral to what we do and is a core reason why clients extend their partnership with BEC through major new contract awards.
“We’re delighted and grateful that our work has been recognised by the judges of The Queen’s Awards. We’re at a really exciting stage in our development and are now seeking investment partners to work with us and help take BEC to the next level.”
Berkeley Engineering Consultants 52 Berkeley Square, London, W1J 5BT Tel: +44 (0)20 7493 6167 • Fax: +44 (0)20 7495 8063 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.berkeleyeng.com