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Austria foreign experts receive Chinese government award

Updated: Nov 21, 2016 Print

Peter Quiatkowski is proud to have made his mark on China's deep-sea oil exploration industry in the past decade.

"When I arrived, the oil business in China was picking up very fast. We were lucky enough to be on the move and were carried along with this," says Quiatkowski, 67, an oil expert from Britain.

Since 2007, Quiatkowski has played a pioneer role in the industry as general manager of Cosl-Expro Testing Services (Tianjin) Company, a joint venture established by China Oilfield Services Limited and the oilfield services provider Expro Group of Britain.

Quiatkowski, who has been in the industry for more than 40 years and has worked in many places, including Africa and South America, says he did not know what to expect before he arrived in China.

He soon found the new environment encouraging. The country was busy preparing for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, and there was "a general enthusiasm for change in the country", he says.

Although Chinese companies were entering new fields and needed overseas help, he was happy to see his Chinese team was well educated and was keen to learn.

"So we had the right ingredient," he says. "They just needed some leadership to get everybody to pull in the right direction."

Early on Quiatkowski put a great deal of emphasis on policies and procedures. It took some time for his Chinese colleagues to understand his approach and get used to new ways of doing things.

"It was a practical challenge to let everybody understand we had to behave in an international way if we wanted to enter the international market," he says.

Drawing on his international experience, Quiatkowski made training a key part of his long-term strategy.

The joint venture frequently sends groups of employees, 99 percent of whom are Chinese, to Britain for training.

"No matter how good the captain is, the ship still would not sail without a good crew," he says.

The company has put in bids against the strongest international competitors and won the contract for a deep-water well testing project of a major Canadian energy company in 2008, marking the first successful step for Chinese oilfield services companies to go international.

Since then the company has provided oil testing services to more than 10 leading international oil companies.

Quiatkowski's team provided the advanced technology and highly trained Chinese crew that carried out well testing services on the sixth-generation semi-submersible oil rig CNOOC HY 981, which went into service in 2012.

It was the first independent deep-water oil drilling operation by a Chinese company, making China one of the few countries that can explore for deep-water oil and gas.

The team also introduced innovative methods to significantly reduce the time required for similar tasks.

This exemplified the Chinese team coming a long way toward becoming top-level players in the field, he says.

"They are stretching the boundaries."

Quiatkowski's work has been recognized by the Chinese authorities. In 2014 he received the Friendship Award, the highest honor given by the Chinese government to foreigners who have made significant contributions to the country's social and economic development.

"It means so much to me. I feel like I should give back more."

Apart from meeting China's top leaders during the awards ceremony, he was invited as a high-level foreign expert to join the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of China's victory in the War against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) in Beijing in October last year.

Quiatkowski first visited China in 1985, when he spent about a week in Shenzhen, an experimental area for the country's economic reforms. He recalls the city being packed with bicycles and that it had no proper roads.

"It's unbelievable it could have changed so much in just 20 years," says Quiatkowski, who revisited the city 10 years ago.

Over the years he has had the chance to travel extensively in China for his work thanks to the company's many branches. Quiatkowski, who has also traveled privately in the country, says traveling has helped him to understand more about the country.

"China was very much a closed book for a long time. When I came here I was surprised by how wonderful China's history is and how far back it goes," he says.

While in China, Quiatkowski is keenly interested not only in his work, but also in local life and current issues, such as pollution.

China is going through the same challenges he experienced in Britain when he was young, he says.

"I think it has to be acknowledged and changed. But I get a bit angry sometimes when people (outside China) are overcritical of Chinese pollution.

"We are not so special ourselves. We changed, and I also think China can change. It's great that the government has acknowledged the problem and is taking steps quickly to do something about it."

Quiatkowski is also engaged in charitable efforts. He made donations after an earthquake hit Sichuan province in 2008, and has also sponsored more than 10 college students from poor families.

He has recently become senior country manager in China for Expro Group, his focus now being to support the joint venture through its next stage of development.

"The Chinese side has been very open and enthusiastic. They are always hungry for more technology and knowledge, while my company fully recognizes that and wants to feed them."

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