Keen to enter the lucrative Middle East and Central Asia markets amidst stagnation in developed markets, Western heavy lift transporters are knocking on the doors of their Turkish counterparts, hoping to capitalize on the latter’s expertise and wide network in the region, market representatives have told Sunday’s Zaman.
Sunday’s Zaman sat down with Engin Kuzucu, general manager of Turkish Hareket Heavy Lifting and Transportation Co., to discuss the latest developments in the heavy lift transportation market. Kuzucu says some world-renowned players have been mulling entering Turkey and branching out into its surrounding region, and that some have requested Hareket’s mentorship to this end. “Through the past few decades, Turkish transporters have cultivated strong business ties with both global and local customers in our region. … People trust our job quality,” he explains.
Kuzucu says there is a sense at international meetings that the interest of these large transport companies in the region could be facilitated to establish partnerships in third markets. “They could help us enter markets where they are relatively stronger, while they can benefit from our experience in other parts of the world. … Some global transporters have shared their wish to enter Turkey with us, and I think they will partner with local firms. They are currently evaluating, but there have been no concrete steps as of yet.” Kuzucu attributes this interest to diminishing investment activity in once-buoyant markets such as Europe, adding that investors are turning their eyes to the developing world.
Turkey’s economic boom over the past decade is another factor that strengthens the hands of its companies, according to Kuzucu. Noting that Turkish companies have concentrated on Middle Eastern and Turkic nations, Kuzucu says they have completed a number of heavy lift transportation projects in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Half of Hareket’s revenue comes from projects abroad, in countries including Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. “Iraq, for instance, is an interesting market for us, and we are looking forward to growing there even more,” he states. “The company has carried out large projects in Turkmenistan. The most recent was transport work for a natural gas plant in the Yolatan region. On this route we built 60 small and large size bridges and overpasses and modified 40 others. … New projects were underway in the same period.”
As regards ongoing problems in Syria, Kuzucu says their business with this country was always limited, so it has not affected them much. “There was a large wind power plant project with 25 turbines at a total 70 MW installed power in Syria. We planned entering a tender for this 1.5 million euro project, but later had to withdraw,” he notes. But Syria is still an important market for transporters, he says, adding they want to make new investments after stability is reinstated in the southern neighbor. “Turkish heavy load transporters are some of the few in reliable addresses customers in this region can come to,” he adds. As proof of the quality of their work, at this year’s European Association of Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes (ESTA) awards, Hareket received the Award of Excellence in the transport, trailer and load more than 120 tons gross weight category.
Half of wind turbines built in Turkey so far carried, set by Hareket
One of the critical jobs Kuzucu’s 55-year-old Hareket undertakes is the transport and installation of wind turbines in Turkey. The company has carried and erected 330 wind turbine towers with a total energy generation capacity of 750 megawatts (MW) so far. “This means half of the turbines built in Turkey so far,” he says. “Another 150 MW is under way. We are currently installing 52 turbines in a project in Balıkesir.” Kuzucu says Balıkesir is the largest wind turbine project they have undertaken so far, adding that the company earned 3 million euros from this job. Hareket expects to finalize the Balıkesir plant, which will employ 80 members of staff, before year-end.
Although wind turbines have only a 20 percent share in their business portfolio, Kuzucu places heavy importance on these projects. “These are vital for energy efficiency at home. Hareket is proud to be the largest Turkish firm to provide both transport and installation services for renewable wind energy projects,” he asserts. The company has the equipment and staff capability to serve six separate wind power plants at the same time.
“This is a multi-dimensional business. We have to carry out feasibility studies, plan every single detail and clear obstacles hindering the land transportation of parts, carefully and with the use of state-of-the-art technology,” he explains. Imported wind turbine parts are loaded from different ports to installation and operation sites. The company constructs new bridges and bypass roads on their routes, in cooperation with local authorities. As regards alternative transport means, Kuzucu says railway may not be a feasible option. “Our European counterparts also do this job via land transport because the loads are much heavier than a train traveling at a desirable speed can carry.”
Turkey expects to increase the capacity of its installed wind power stations to 20,000 MW in 2020 from the present 2,000 MW. The country’s electricity demand is anticipated to increase by as much as 5.5 percent in the coming decade. Kuzucu says companies similar to his have the capacity to undertake Turkey’s wind energy plant installation, but that the market should be ready for this. “I think a 15,000 MW target in the next six years is achievable. We are seeing early signals of this, looking at the operation licenses issued so far. … But it is still too early to make a definite statement,” he adds. Turkey needs to install 20 wind towers (each 2 MW) per week if it wants to reach 15,000 MW in six years. “We can currently erect seven or eight towers in a week. I am not even mentioning adverse weather conditions,” Kuzucu remarks.
In relation to the company’s financial targets, Kuzucu says they have set a target to grow 15 percent in turnover each year in the coming years. He says they expect to make 32 million euros in turnover this year. The company has invested 25 million euros into increasing their capacity over the past three years.