How is Kent thriving?
Launching last year as a merger of several entities, Kent is looking to be at the forefront of energy transition over the coming decades. With formidable expertise across the whole spectrum of the sector (from oil and gas to renewables), it is in a position to support and provision sustainable enhancements of energy facilities around the world. But painting a culture and purpose onto a blank canvas from several large companies with their own previous identities and strengths was always going to be a challenge, one which appears to have been overcome just 10 months from its formation.
Since forming out of several company mergers in 2021, Kent (previously Kentech) has been on a mission to place energy transition front and centre of everything it does. It has set its purpose to “Courageously tackle the greatest challenge of our time, to bring our world the energy it needs in the most responsible way ever imagined”. In order to do this, it is drawing on the expertise contained within its new constituent parts – Kentech, and the oil and gas divisions of SNC-Lavalin and Atkins, as well as the latter’s new energy business.
Crucially, for Kent, the issue of energy transition cannot be ignored in oil and gas circles, hence the decision to acquire the O&G businesses that SNC-Lavalin and Atkins were seeking to offload. Energy transition away from hydrocarbons will take time, and Kent sees a huge opportunity to be at the forefront of that process by enacting sustainable change from within. Indeed, the decision was taken not to carry over the core values of any of the original businesses, instead starting with a blank canvas.
But this is no conventional start-up business. The new company comprises around 12,000 employees with a turnover of more than $1.2 billion and 100 years of experience operating in various parts of the energy sector. In order to reposition successfully as a new brand, Kent needed to culturally align into one cohesive unit if it was to make it’s mark in the industry.
One of the first major undertakings of the new Kent business was a cultural listening project. The plan was to hear as many voices as possible from the new business about the impact they wanted to have. Around 10% of the entire global workforce had their voice heard through workshops and surveys conducted over a 12-week period. After this they held a comprehensive strategy session among key stakeholders. Critically, this included not only the executive management team, but colleagues in multiple expertise areas from multiple regions and of multiple generations
It was from this listening tour that the energy transition as a core mantra surfaced, meaning it had organisational buy-in from the start. What does this mean in practice? For Kent, its purpose would be all about looking at how it can design and build facilities with lower carbon footprints, as well as support clients in decarbonising their existing facilities – right across the spectrum from oil and gas to renewable energy.
Technology will play a key part in delivering on this purpose. Here, Kent is making enhancements to its CIRT Decarbonisation software program (originally made in 2019) to make it more user friendly and better serve its purpose as a tool to lift the operational performance of plants. Key features include plotting carbon emissions of the plant, developing roadmaps to improve emissions performance, and costing profiles for each option presented.
Although it is still early days, Kent has enjoyed ongoing involvement on some landmark projects. For example, it is working on Hynet UK, a blue hydrogen development that seeks to use traditional fuels to generate a lower carbon output with pre-combustion carbon capture technology. Kent has been involved in the concept development, with the project now going through funding phases with the UK government, this having been recognised as a leading global project in 2021 by the Institute of Chemical Engineers. They are also leaders in offshore wind, having had involvement in over 70% of the UK’s entire offshore wind portfolio.
Moreover, success can also be measured from a cultural perspective. Such has been the effectiveness of the new Kent approach, it’s employees feel that they are part of a unified team with a common purpose, with employee turnover less than 1% since the merger took place.
Looking ahead, the company is seeking to grow its energy transition revenues to a point where it assumes an equal portion of revenue within the next five years. With the cultural and technological grounding in place, there is little reason to doubt this target will be met.
With over 100 years of experience, Kent designs, builds, and maintains assets around the world through engineering and consultancy; project execution, commissioning, completion, and start-up; and operation and maintenance of a variety of projects. Having begun as a small electrical and instrumentation business known as MF Kent in rural Ireland, 1919, Kent is now engaged with projects in conventional power (including decarbonisation initiatives of this sector), low carbon and renewable energies, and process and chemicals. Kent has a worldwide presence, with projects ranging from Australia to Iraq, from Canada to Kazakhstan, to name a few.
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The company has received government support through the Furlough scheme in a selection number of regions.
Kent at a glance:
Key products and services: Engineering services (design, build, maintain) with focus on energy transition.
Main industries served:
• Oil (onshore and offshore) – 50%
• Low carbon & renewables – 20%
• Process and chemical – 30%
With plans to make this an even split across all categories over next 5 years.
Headquarters: Dubai, UAE
Year established: 1919
Number of employees: 12,000
Revenue from exports: 90%
Extract from EIC Survive & Thrive Volume VI 2022, page 88 and 89 https://bit.ly/3VaJJcb