28 February 2002 | David Arminas
The oil and gas industry has moved into the second phase of its business-to-business mentoring scheme to improve supply chain relationships.
Under the project, representatives from the sector's main construction and service companies team up with senior management of 15 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which supply the larger companies with goods and services.
The programme was started in July 2000 by the Department of Trade and Industry and Pilot, the successor to the government's oil and gas industry task force, to improve the sector's international competitiveness.
Mentoring is designed to help SMEs develop solutions for the large oil and gas operators' exploitation programmes.
By doing this, the government hopes to improve SMEs' ability to sell themselves in the international market. It has set a target of a 50 per cent increase in industry-related exports by 2005.
Phase one of the scheme has been a success, according to Nigel Cotterill, commercial procurement process manager for Shell Expro.
"We recognise that SMEs are a source of innovation and that mentoring was one of a number of ways of raising our awareness of what they could offer," he told SM.
A big problem for an SME is finding the right person to market their services to within a large company, said Reinoud Blok, business improvement team leader in the procurement function at Shell Expro.
This led the oil giant to launch a website where it posted 12 of its problems that needed solving.
"We had 106 solutions submitted from SMEs and awarded several contracts," said Blok, who was a mentor in the first phase.
"None of the SMEs in phase one or two start the programme having contracts with their mentor's company, so this allows an objective approach to the process of understanding the problems facing each other."