Sakhalin: Interview with Boris Kornoukhov

Boris Kornoukhov

General Director (Romona)

Boris Kornoukhov

Q: Could you please tell us a little more about the origin of the company?

A: Romona was founded in 1991, as one of the first private companies being established in Russia. Initially all the shares were owned by the government, but then gradually we, the workers have obtained most of the shares in the company. Now the governmental ownership is around 10%. The head office of Romona since the very beginning of our activities has been based ere in Sakhalin and we are very proud of that. We are present historically in the Far East of Russia, but not only there. We have offices all around South East Asia- Vietnam and Thailand, and an office in the Middle- East. In addition to that the Moscow office is managing our Caspian Sea projects.

Q: Romona is known for its combined experience of 30 years in the field of onshore and offshore surveying. What other services can Romona provide to its clients?

A: We provide geophysical surveys, offshore positioning and navigation; soil sampling, hydrographic and seafloor imaginary surveys, diving works, land surveys and many more depending on the necessity. Until today we gained extensive experience in oil industry. Here in Sakhalin we work nearly for all main companies; we worked for Sakhalin 1 project, we have several long-term agreements, we worked for Sakhalin 2, we have two long-term agreements going on right now, 4 pipelines sections and 4 diving and also for another some small services. We worked with BP or Rosneft BP- they joined Alvary in Sakhalin Neftegas. We will provide site survey, positioning and some another services. Also we continue to work with BP in Azerbaijan, we have a lot term agreements and provide positioning in the Azerbaijan Caspian region. Also we worked in Thailand with companies like Chevron, Petronas and for big companies in Vietnam and Cambodia. Our main clients are the big oil companies. Within the last years we managed to expand the portfolio of our services, from only navigation position services. We provide survey services, geophysical survey, oceanography study, also pipelines section study. We also have good experience with large construction companies and all platforms in the Sakhalin region ever since they were installed we provide special positioning services. We are an international company with experience from markets like: Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, the US, Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines and more.

Q: What type of clients are you looking for right now?

A: We worked with several international companies before. We are very open for any type of potential cooperation. We are being constantly invited to participate in tenders and some of those projects are requiring a lot of very high technology and the level of difficulty is high. For those projects we are looking for partners.

Q: Romona has a very impressive track record, what do you think is the main factor for that?

A: The answer is simple; our company was not started from the scratch. We all knew each other, we gathered the best professionals from the region and we simply organized it all in the most effective way.

Q: What would you see as the main challenges for Romona now and how are you trying to change that?

A: Of course the slow down in the economy is affecting everyone. And, in this case Sakhalin region and all the projects that we are involved in here are very important.  However, since we are an international company with vast experience and opportunities we are constantly looking for new projects. We are a very mobile company, we work with international rules, for example we have no interpreters here –all staff can speak English.We understand that market and we know that if we want to be successful we must work professionally. This will provide us with a bright future.

Q: You mention bureaucracy. You mentioned that some companies in Russia have very big bureaucracy.

A: Very big, lot of people. When we founded Romona, we will because this will change situation in USA and Russia and go to market. It was not easy because we was in one and new system but we try to work in market rules, teaches them, understand and I hope it is successful because if we not would work nobody would work with you. You know that Offshore industry is a high technology industry and it special technology have very good quality special equipment and also very good education and experience people. But a lot of our stuff in our company is young people. We work with 8 university. And every year take from 20-25 people for practice from different universities: from Novosibirsk, Moscow, St Petersburg, Taganrok, Krasnadar. For example they have one or two practies. After that they take who did the job the best. Because not so easy with qualified stuff in our market.

Q: You mentioned that you company is different. I am actually very happy to hear that in terms of management and burrocrasy or actually a lack of a burocrasy because one of the main concers that the readers of Offshore Engineer have when they looking on partners especially here in Russia as that those companies are very slow in terms of making decisions that you know sometimes you are in situation when you simply have to make a quick decision because otherwise you gonna lose business. Would you say that Romona is an example of a company that can renew yourself be an a general manager. You are a general manager who can make fast decision if it is required for business.

A: Yes. Every time we work quickly, certainly for some questions it is impossible but we make decision very quick. Simple example- we are company working in Sakhalin but also the project  is international, lot of people from different countries. One of language- English. Be write report in English. We have 60 agreements with British oil in south England and we send people there because without English language we cant be successful. And for example some companies have interpreters…We haven’t, because we all can speak English. In company for example only few people –mainly lady from counted department, personal department cannot speak and mainly after 40- all younger speak English.

Q: Obviously in this report we are looking for companies that can represent what Sakhalin can offer and what companies here in the industry can offer. You mentioned that you are very international company, you mentioned your experience, you mentioned the actually vertical integrated almost everything that was in the beginning of the company. Now how important is it for you and Romona, for your potentional partners all over the world to know about it? They can provide a good quality service. Is that some important for you?   

A:  Yes, because mainly we work for if exon mobil is the biggest company in the world and which have absolutely very high requirements, invite us and give us contract me that we can work. The same with other country. Not only in Sakhalin. We work for BP and Caspian BP very satisfies our job. If the no satisfy they wouldn’t work with us. This summer our contract with BP promoted for more to yers, for Bp Azerbaijan, and we are not so big company. We have good permanently stuff about 100 person, but for temporary really used from 30-50, depends on what project is. But, we compete in the market with bigger companies and we for example with Fygra and sometime we successful.We absolutely competitive.

Q: This report is about energy  Oil and Gas sector but it is also about Sakhalin, and I sure you will agree with me that people don’t really know about Sakhalin, most people don’t know even where Sakhalin is. It is very difficult for people… my friend for example in Poland and our readers also they have problems with saying where Sakhalin is positioned exactly. There is one of the reasons why I am here and why I am working with governor Horoshavin, with mister Krake from Sakhalin 2,mr Tailor from Sakhalin mobile. On promoting and showing the opportunities here in Sakhalin so how important is it for you a representative of a local company those established here on Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to help governor Horoshavin and all these gentlemen in showing and presenting Sakhalin to the world?

A: Yes, This is important and we will do that for example when the avarded some contract in Indonesia or Miama for example or in Vietnam there basic like Sakhalin company, this is important because this give people Sakhalin… yes sometime in the world no people know about Sakhalin and for example 10-12 years situation was terrible- I was delegate 12 conference Sakhalin oil and gas and first was in London. In that time people very few knows about the Sakhalin. Just now much better but also maybe not for all because so small place and because  we are Sakhalin basic company and work in different vision in our address in our specifies Sakhalin there maybe some advertisement for Sakhalin and when our stuff travel on work they are asked:  “What is Sakhalin? Where Sakhalin is?”,-oh, this is island-very close to Japan. Theyhave a lot of questions about Sakhalin, they like international what we give some knowledge another people about Sakhalin. Every business day I have a question- what the Sakhalin is?