“Offshore oil platforms have limited space and are often located in the middle of the ocean, constantly being battered by massive waves up to 20 to 30 feet that can flip an entire ship,” said Kingsley Fong, Managing Director of BSL Oilfield Services Limited.
“Imagine the difficulty when you have to transport bulky supply items to these platforms.”
A wholly-owned subsidiary of BSL Containers Limited, BSL Oilfield Services specializes in designing, manufacturing, certifying and maintaining cargo-carrying equipment specifically for offshore oil rigs. “We aspire to provide safe and professional oil and gas cargo-carrying equipment to offshore platforms,” Fong said.
Offshore oil rigs are regarded as among the harshest working environments, and danger from the sea is not even half of the story, as Fong explained.
“Offshore platforms can easily catch fire with the smallest mistake you can imagine,” he said. “The platform is stored with highly-flammable goods, and more importantly, gas could be present because of oil extraction. A tiny spark could then instantly result in a catastrophic explosion of the whole platform.”
Safety is, therefore, of the utmost importance when transporting cargo – such as ship supplies, chemicals, oil pipes, heavy machinery and even human beings – to these offshore platforms. Strongly adhering to this principle, Fong makes sure his cargo-connecting supply vessels and carrying equipment fulfill all of the ever-evolving standards and regulations required in the industry.
“Offshore drilling will only become more challenging in the future due to the shallow fossil fuel reserves, demanding oil companies to drill in deeper and further waters,” explained Fong. “With our expertise and knowledge, we will continue to provide professional equipment and services to minimize the risk of the drilling operations in the sea.”
Road to success
Fong began his oilfield business eight years ago right after he completed his engineering degree at the University of British Columbia and further pursued his MBA degree at HKUST in 2015.
“High-level technology always fascinates me because of its complexity,” said Fong, “I knew that I belonged in this industry because it is so challenging, and it involves the most advanced technology, often almost at military level.”
Fong’s ambitions for BSL Oilfield Services also stemmed further from his observation of how the market at that time was led by western companies.
“The industry has been traditionally dominated by British and American firms,” he said. “I wanted to show that Chinese companies can be successful in the technical service sector as well. In 2012, I was given the chance to form a joint venture firm with the largest logistics company in Australia.
“With the support of my family, I decided to seize the chance and established BSL Oilfield Services, fully devoting myself to the industry.”
Like many new businesses, the initial stage was challenging, as BSL Oilfield Services worked to get a foothold in the market.
“At first, it was difficult for us to become a registered vendor with large oil companies around the world because we were the newcomers,” said Fong. “Statistics, portfolios and reputation are essential to prove that we are the most suitable vendor. When you miss the chance, it will take another two to three years before these oil companies are open to bidding again.”
But Fong was determined to prove the company’s worth amid strong global competition.
“We worked really hard to get the certification, the financial records, the standardization and recognition for our products and services, and many more to show that we are capable and one of the best in the field.”
Fong’s efforts have certainly paid off: in the last two years, BSL Oilfield Services has become a registered vendor with seven of the top 20 oil and gas companies in the world, including Chevron, Shell, Sinopec, Total, Exxon Mobile, Eni and Petronas. His company has also gradually expanded to provide services in seven countries in Asia Pacific and the European region, and is ranked top five in the industry in Southeast Asia, with a market share of 15 – 18%. This global scope creates challenges as well as opportunities for the company.
“The challenging part is that we have to adjust our approaches and come up with a specific business model to meet with the needs in each office,” said Fong, “because each of the Asian developing countries have their own unique culture and legal system.”
That requires Fong to study the local laws in the various jurisdictions, ensuring that the company adheres to regulations regarding recruitment, employees’ benefits and shareholder structure, among others. He also needs to consider the local culture and to understand the people’s mindset so that he can derive management models that will motive his staff in different regional offices.
“The twist is that sometimes these laws are not clearly stated and common practices are hard to identify,” he said. “You need to dig deep to know better.”
On the other hand, the opportunity to travel all around the world is one of the joys of the job. “I have enjoyed travel to some of the most exquisite places in the world to visit my clients, such as Kazakhstan, Trinidad and Azerbaijan,” said Fong. “These places are not traditional tourist destinations but will certainly broaden your horizons.”
When he is at home in Hong Kong, Fong is also an active member of the Chamber’s Young Executives Club. “I enjoy being part of YEC because the club always hosts interesting activities and networking sessions that allow us to acquire new information, exchange views and connect with young professionals from different industries” he said. “I have met a lot of wonderful friends from various sectors and gained so much from their success stories.”
Envisaging the future
Despite a clear shift to renewables in the future energy mix, Fong foresees a positive growth in his industry in the future. “Reports have shown that the demand for fossil fuels will not peak until 2030, with Asia accounting more than 50% of the gas demand growth,” he said. “We still need them for aircraft and ships. Countries need them for industrial development, which is crucial to their economies.”
In the long run, Fong hopes to grow his company’s market share in Southeast Asia and to further expand and develop his business to new regions, such as Africa, the Middle East and Russia.
“Our short-term goal is to focus on our business in Malaysia,” he said, “which is a focal point that we’ve just started for a short period of time. Doing well in Malaysia will help increase our market share in the Southeast Asian market significantly.”
Having a successful business has always been a dream shared by ambitious members of the younger generation. Fong advises youngsters with business visions to try to incorporate innovative elements into traditional industries and to explore the infinite possibilities outside of Hong Kong.
“If you are willing to go beyond,” said Fong, “ample opportunities are waiting for you.”
Company : BSL Containers Ltd
HKGCC Membership No. : HKB0521
Established : 1998
Website : http://www.bslcontainers.com
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