HFI Renews Past Partnership to Expand its Network

In 2003, Graham Berry became one of the first clients of what was then a new and embryonic venture in the Middle East – the original HFI Consulting. He had been tasked by Houston-based Superior Energy Services to establish and launch operations in the region as managing director of Wild Well Control.

Over a period of nine months, HFI founder Hugh Fraser helped Graham to set up the Dubai office and undertook the mountain of complex legal work that would allow the firm’s Middle East and North Africa divisions to operate under that registration.

Fast forward almost 15 years and their paths have crossed once again: Graham is now the latest consultant to join the HFI network and will use his own vast experience of doing business in the Middle East to help companies realise their ambitions to internationalise.

He has over 35 years of experience in oil and gas services and engineering sectors. He first arrived in Dubai in the early 1980s and has lived there on four occasions during his career, in addition to spells in Singapore, Malaysia and Houston.

Graham's specialisation lies with the provision of market analysis, local partner vetting and selection, NOC vendor registration support and business development for companies wishing to enter the drilling equipment and services sector in the MENA, Africa and Asia Pacific regions.

He is also a long-standing member of the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.


Graham Berry

Graham Berry is now the latest consultant to join the HFI network


As someone who spent so long in the cut and thrust of the energy sector in key markets, there can be few other people with such an extensive knowledge on how to successfully deliver expansion projects in the region.

“Over the years I have watched far too many companies make very expensive and time-consuming mistakes when it comes to setting up in the Middle East because they have selected the wrong local partner or agent,” said Graham.

“Some people might believe that you simply ‘get rid’ of that partner if things don’t work out six months down the line. But the reality is that extracting yourself from contractual agreements involve complex, costly and protracted negotiations which have a significant impact on timescales and budgets associated with expansion plans.”

It is this understanding of the intricacies of doing business in MENA and other parts of the world – and the key players that North Sea firms need to build relationships with – that makes Graham an ideal lead for HFI’s International Local Partner Agreement (ILPA) initiative.

ILPA is a key platform in the HFI service offering and uses the firm’s strategic, commercial, legal and diplomatic skills to create a platform for success. It aims to match companies with advanced technology across the entire spectrum of the energy sector with the right local partner and the right commercial arrangements.

In doing so, HFI hopes that it can increase the number of companies successfully internationalising their business and, conversely, reducing the number that fail. ILPA offers specialist advice on everything from legal, regulatory and policy framework to negotiation on heads of terms.

Graham said: “MENA and the Gulf Co-operative Council offers an incredible amount of potential for drilling and production engineering and services companies, and what we are doing is putting together a road map for those who want to internationalise their business in all of the countries within the GCC – Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the UAE.


offshore europe

Graham Berry with Mandy Harper and Malcolm Kelly at HFI Consulting's Offshore Europe 2017 stand


“We will not only help them from the legal aspect, but also assist by conducting a survey of the various ILPAs they could work with and draw up a short list of partners that represent the best fit for them. We ensure the find the right match to get the best possible results, and eliminate the risk of making the wrong choice.

“Although the roadmap is for the GCC, we want to start with Saudi Arabia because it is the biggest market and to assist our clients in doing business with Saudi Aramco and new initiatives it is promoting.

“In addition to working on the HFI’s ILPA initiative, I’ll also be involved in its specialist services focused on the Saudi Arabia 2030 Economic Vision and the In-Kingdom Total Value Added programme.

“This will result in a significant number of new opportunities, particularly for joint ventures. If you want to expand into the region in the next six to 12 months then Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest market. Most companies find that if they can internationalise in this region, they can repeat that successful journey elsewhere.”