Having established its credentials in the refinery sector, Essar Projects- Hydrocarbon Strategic Business Unit (SBU) plans to position itself as a leading Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) sector player in the petrochemicals, fertilizer and gas value chain. Ravindran Kayarat, CEO, Hydrocarbon SBU, Essar Projects in an exclusive interview with Shashidhar Nanjundaiah shares his perspective on the opportunities and challenges in the Hydrocarbon EPC sector and the company's future plans.Essar Projects has executed a world class grass-root refinery at Vadinar, Gujarat, India with a capacity of 10.5 MMTPA, being currently expanded in stages to 20 MMTPA involving primary and complex secondary processing units along with associated utilities and infrastructure facilities. With the experience gained from successfully executing a complex project of this magnitude and successful track record of project delivery over past 40 years across sectors, we are now offering our Hydrocarbon EPC sector expertise to external clients like IOCL for whom we are building nine process units (package-A) at the 15 MMTPA Paradeep Refinery Project on Lump Sum Turn Key (LSTK) basis. The clients are now increasingly demanding EPC-LSTK mode of implementation primarily due to better management of risks, assurance of getting delivered a time-bound and quality asset associated with single point LSTK responsibility. We are amongst the few experienced EPC players in India with capability to execute complex & mega projects.Overcoming ChallengesEvery EPC contract comes with tough deadlines, need for fast track execution and dynamic integration challenges. There is tremendous scope in the Hydrocarbon EPC industry for those capable of overcoming these inherent challenges. Essar Projects has the project management expertise honed over the past 40 years to provide seamless integration of the project through various activities involved like envisioning of the project through engineering, advance planning and procurement expertise, skillful logistics management and driving the construction as per schedule.Looking forwardHydrocarbon sector has very bright prospects both in India & abroad. In India this sector is poised for major expansion plans in Refineries (from present capacity of approx. 190 MMTPA to over 300 MMTPA by 2017), LNG Terminals, etc. as a part of Rs 2.8 Trillion investment earmarked for Oil & Gas sector in the 12th Plan period (2012-17) and major investment plans in notified Petroleum, Chemicals & Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR). We plan to strategically target a sizeable portion of projects related to Hydrocarbon sector and associated facilities in the PCPIRs. We are now actively tracking upcoming fertilizer projects also as the government policies for this sector are favorable and seek to uplift this dormant industry.In addition to this, we are looking aggressively at opportunities in Middle East EPC market. We have established regional marketing offices in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and also keen on upcoming opportunities in South East Asia. We are actively pursuing projects and meeting qualification requirements with key clients whilst forging necessary partnerships like technical tie-ups with International partners. The Middle-East market have started looking favorably at the South-East Asian contractors which is a welcome change from the era of dominance by Western contractors. Essar Projects intends to gain from this paradigm change in the Middle-east EPC market and are actively promoting the value proposition that we offer and the experience of having recently completed a complex Refinery project to key clients in Oil & Gas sector.Manpower mattersThere is an overall shortage of skilled manpower at all levels in the industry and is an area of concern with respect to handling major projects. Our company has a good grip on mobilization and training skilled manpower gained through best-in-class human resource management practices while delivering our projects. As Essar Projects is executing projects across India and abroad, we are continuously strengthening our know-how in the domain of recruiting, training and retaining our skilled manpower base.