French companies seek joint ventures with Brunei partners

Monday, November 25, 2013

FRENCH companies will be engaging in face-to-face talks with two dozen local companies to explore possible joint ventures and business opportunities today at The Empire Hotel & Country Club.

The business-to-business meeting will involve 13 French companies in a diverse range of fields, from infrastructure to human resource development. The meeting is also done in partnership with Total in Brunei.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, The Trade Commissioner for Singapore and Brunei, Frederic Rossi, explained that they believe there is still a lot of space in the Brunei oil and gas market. Rossi believes that Brunei is at the preliminary stage of a new period of development in the oil and gas industry.

“There were big developments up to last year,” he said. “Starting next year, exports will start to rise and there will be new exploration to come.” Because of that, he said that they came early to “meet the right partners”, as well as familiarise themselves with the local business ecosystem and “adapt to the next step”.

“There is also all the downstream industries that the government wants to develop,” he said, noting it was one of the significant areas they are looking at, such as infrastructure projects both those connected directly with the oil and gas sector or indirectly linked to it, such as bridges or the Sungai Liang Economic Zone. “We have some expertise in which we can bring over,” he said.

He noted also as an example, CREOCEAN, a French company specialised for marine environment and coastal management will be present for the meeting, which could help balance development of big industry projects with the protection of the Brunei coastal environment.

He also said that these companies are aware of the local developments, including the government’s push for local joint ventures and partnerships, the increase of local content and localisation of the work force, and he said that these companies are prepared to meet those needs.

“These companies can help the local industry to achieve the target of getting more and more expertise in the field (of oil and gas)” he said. He also cited an increase in business activity between France and Brunei, noting a 40 per cent increase in direct activities, while also stating there were also more activities going on between French companies that have set up in Singapore and Brunei.

Around 75 to 80 meetings have been organised by the French Embassy in Brunei between the French companies and local Brunei companies.

The Brunei Times