ISSN 2330-717X

Consortium Meeting In Vienna, 1996 – OpEd


My readers know me very well, my memories/ articles are based on my old meeting notes and diaries. Being able to explain the events which took place 25-30 years ago clearly pushes the limits of human memory. The consortium meeting I will tell here is a daily written version of such a chain of events prepared by your 65+ year old author, who had two doses of SinoVac vaccine, who had to stay indoors for 3-weeks during the Covid-19 local lockdown process, in his study room. This meeting was an organization attended by the representatives of very large market leaders, where they were represented at the top level.

At the beginning of 1996, we received an invitation from a leading Austrian energy company that has completed a lot references in Turkey. It was for a new project joint consortium meeting to be held in Vienna. The largest American and Japanese ST-GT manufacturers were also invited to the meeting. We would be expected to be the waste heat boiler supplier and field assembly partner of a large combined cycle thermal power plant.

Everyone had a clear share of scope in the project. Previously, we had meeting confidentiality agreements signed and submitted. At the time of writing this article, the signatories of this agreement are no longer in the market, most of them have left their thermal power plant business. The duration of the confidentiality agreement was 25 years. This time is over. Ethically, though, I will not name the participants, but experienced readers of the market will be able to guess them right away.

As the sole representative of my company, I arrived at the Vienna airport one day before the meeting by a THY plane connecting in Istanbul. I settled in my reasonably priced business hotel. The next day, I went to the headquarters of our Austrian project leader. There were everyone invited all gathered in a very large hall. Company representatives from America and Japan came to the consortium meeting as well. Confidentiality agreements were signed again first. All participating company representatives signed on the same page. Each kept one copy for themselves.

All communications took place in English. Each representative member kept his own meeting notes. At that time, PCs and notebooks were not yet common, I kept the meeting notes in handwriting. Then I printed it in the office upon return.

Then, latest project tender documents were distributed to all participants. We had already purchased and studied the tender documents of buyer who was Turkey’s public energy electricity generation company long ago. Our share was clear. 

We, as an US-Turkish joint venture manufacturer of  steam boilers, were responsible for the project’s waste heat boiler design, supply, production and on-site assembly works. Our scope was drudgery and labor-intensive field work, nobody got involved in our scope, the man-hour workmanship to be spent in the realization period of the project was predicted in advance, it was put into cost calculations, we were only asked for man-hour price, we could not demand less or more man-hours. Our man-hour price was priced at 5 US dollars at that time.

Our local partner, a large contracting company, would do the field assembly and construction works of the project. Austrian American and Japanese companies would share the overall design, Gas Turbine and Steam Turbine supply scopes. A very large American commercial bank with an office in Turkey to finance the project was also represented at the meeting.

We had long discussions without leaving the meeting room for two days. The Austrian firm undertook the overall design of the project as the leader. They had undeniably grabbed a significant 10% of the price for the engineering work required for project design and project management.

American and Japanese companies have agreed to supply necessary equipment. They would deliver the market’s best equipment according to their current manufacturing sequence, and then send a supervisor for field assembly. The daily price of the supervisors was 1000 US dollars, excluding transportation and accommodation expenses.

The prices given by each consortium party were received by the Leading Austrian firm, the proposal would be prepared and delivered to the recipient public institution in Turkey in the requested number before a certain tender closing date. As the company official, I signed all the tender documents. I used the signature stamp I brought with me for the second signature. This was an acceptable practice by all.

At the end of the second day, talks were finished. To relieve the tension of the meeting, our host Austrian company took us to an open-air restaurant outside Vienna by minibuses. They offered Viennese hunted animal/ deer meats, salad, appetizers and white wine diluted with tonic soda. Since white wine was diluted by half with tonic soda, it was very easy to drink. It seemed mild to the Americans, but the Japanese quickly enjoyed this drink, which was easy to drink. “Don’t drink too much” warning came from their bosses. As always, I followed the way I do in business meetings, I did not take more than half a glass.

The next day everyone returned to their own country. The proposal file was created by the leading Austrian company, it was duplicated in the requested number of copies, and the company catalogs provided by us were added. Proposal documents were delivered before tender closing date. A three-month evaluation period was expected.

Then the official answer came, the tender was canceled. Capacity was unnecessarily large. There was not enough fuel. 

Later, another tender of similar but smaller capacity was released by large iron and steel plants on the West Black Sea coast. This time, American Japanese companies did not come to meeting. The Austrian leading company undertook their ST-GT equipment supply scope. Since we had a consortium meeting before, we got ready this time faster. Everything was clear. We undertook the waste heat steam boiler and field installation works within the same scope.

Finally, we got the tender, we completed it in two years. If you ask today, “what did you do in Vienna?” After 25 years, I don’t have much to say, I remember the airport, the meeting room and the country restaurant. Details are in my daily notes, but they don’t mean anything today.

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Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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