- Bhaskar Dutta, CEO, Al Jazeera Steel
In 1999, under the company name Al Jazeera Tubes Manufacturing Co SAOG, the first commercial production was made from the Tube Mill (TM). All through the years till 2006, the company grew from one mill and one galvanising line to four mills and three galvanising lines to cover 1/2´ to 8´ pipes and other rectangular and square sections from 12 mm to 125 mm. The rated capacity for the plant was 300,000 tpa. Further, with the construction and infrastructural investment in the GCC region, a new structural mill project - envisaged in late 2006 - was commissioned in 2009 and the company expanded its share capital, further being renamed as Al Jazeera Steel Products Co SAOG.
The structural mill, with a capacity of 300,000 tpa, can produce angles from 40 mm to 100 mm, Channels of 75 mm and 100 mm, flats from 38 mm to 110 mm, rounds from 16 mm to 50 mm and squares from 12 mm to 50 mm. The fresh influx of funds was provided by Global Buyout fund, Kuwait and they owned 51 per cent of the share. In 2014, to have the full utilisation of the structural mill, additional investment has been made for additionally producing rebars and commercial production, for sizes 8 mm to 32 mm, expected to start shortly. In this background, Bhaskar Dutta, CEO, Al Jazeera Steel, elaborates on the company´s various strategies and its production plant in Oman.
What are the key features in your products that keep you ahead of the competition?
Quality, product range and commitment are the core strengths of our company. That said, since inception, we have been doing business in the MENA region along with the US and progressively our penetration in to their market has increased over the years.
Introduce us to the company´s production plant at Sohar in Oman. What is the size of the plant and its current capacity?
Each plant is rated at 300,000 tpa. However, with several products and sizes and low production runs per size, if these mills operate at 65 per cent capacity utilisation, it is presumed to be good. In case of tube mill, we are performing better and plan to achieve 75 per cent - subject to market demand. In the structural merchant bar mill (MBM), our achievement has been 40 per cent as the market locally is small. To curb this, the rebar rolling facility has been added to MBM and we expect to achieve 70 per cent capacity - subject to market demand.
Elaborate on the technology within the production plant and how it adds to the quality of the final product manufactured.
In the Tube mill, we have been regularly upgrading all facilities with modern mechanical, electrical and electronic devices to ensure that we improve upon the performance and output. We are also the largest producer of galvanised pipes in this region. In MBM, we have a state-of-the-art mill with level two automation and have thus been able to achieve good productivity and quality in a short time. This has also enabled us to establish the company as a superb quality producer with consistency in the market.
Where are the raw materials sourced from?
In case of TM, all the raw materials are imported, primarily from China, India, CIS, Saudi Arabia and Iran. As for MBM, there are local manufacturers like Modern Steel and Jindal Shadeed. Additionally, we import from CIS, UAE and China for a price advantage.
How much do you invest to ensure safety production practices and quality in your offerings?
Our investments over the last five years have been to a tune of OMR 2-3 million per year for upgradation and upkeep of all equipment and machinery.
Going forward, what are your plans to add to the company´s growth rate?
We have recently commissioned the rebar manufacturing facility in MBM and have no intentions of backward integration like Steelmaking. This is because we have huge volumes available from local sources of billets. Also, for TM raw materials, the plant´s investment will be in billion dollars. But without iron ore and shortage of gas, it will not be viable.
What would you list as the key factors or practices that position Al Jazeera Steel among the leading tubing and structural product suppliers in the world?
Quality, consistency, product range and commitment are the key factors that position the company among the leading tubing product suppliers of the world and structural product suppliers in the MENA region. As in the case of our TM products, over 20 per cent revenue is generated from exports outside MENA. However, exports outside Oman account for over 85 per cent of the combined revenue.