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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Beyond master planning

  • By
    portrait of Brandon Statton
    Brandon Statton, Manager, Infrastructure Planning & Development
  • 13 July 2020
     4 Min Read

Major world challenges – such as climate change, rapid urbanization and pandemics– are coming at us thick and fast, forcing us to rethink the ways in which we interact with one another, as well as how we travel,  work, and live.  Our customers understand that infrastructure plays a pivotal role in coming up with a holistic, long-term solution, and we are both inspired and motivated by their desire to boldly make a difference. 

We are working with them on solutions to help relieve the pressures of massive population growth; unprecedented demand on our resources and an unquenchable thirst for super-fast and super-safe digital connectivity.

We are also supporting the design and large scale roll-out of futuristic transport infrastructure that will help clean up and decongest our busiest cities. Many of our customers who are accelerating their path to net zero are driving us to push the frontier of renewables technology to power huge infrastructure projects – while at the same time seeking ways to deal with legacy carbon-emitting plants.  

While mega-project planning is not a new concept, our approach is defined by an intense focus on front-end planning led by our global engineering, design and construction practitioners who have worked on some of the world’s most complex projects. Our team of infrastructure planners work with customers at every step – from the birth of an idea to physical execution and operations – to deliver a programme based on four key principles that goes beyond master-planning and gives a high certainty of outcome.

Four key principles

Partner-centric approach. Our customers are our partners. When getting a project established in the planning phase it is important that the team is fully aligned, so that we work with one mindset. Often this starts with articulating the purpose of the project – whom and how will it serve, what benefits will it bring, for example what are the long-term social and economic outcomes. Agreeing the narrative in the planning stages create a unified vision that all project stakeholders keep in mind and use to shape their creative and technical solutions. 

De-risking the plan. Early engagement with an EPC helps identify issues that only experience can bring. Bechtel, in its 122nd year, has a long history in the EPC and PM arena and an equally long history in master-planning. Our people provide real-life lessons learned off some of the world’s largest and most complex projects, giving them unparalleled insight into this critical early-stage work. It is a mistake to separate the master-planning and preliminary design from project delivery.

Finding the design “diamond” in the rough. When analyzing the project, region, or nation, our first consideration is identifying the synergies and sequences that will ensure the final result is greater than the sum of its parts.  We have done this on many of our projects around the world, for example turning the flared gas by-product of Jubail’s oil fields into a robust industrial city that now contributes over 7% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP. Or, how we are supporting the governments of Gabon and Ivory Coast deliver nationwide infrastructure in a way that returns long-term socio-economic gains for local communities. Customers get swamped by data, but data is valuable only when it is used to articulate and then achieve better outcomes.   

Future-proofing the design. Thoughtful planning allows for the project to breathe and grow. Capitalizing on mega-project momentum in the financing, procurement and logistics realm often creates additional opportunities. For example, designing 5G-ready motorways in the Balkans, that will in time attract smart development and link into key areas of economic growth. Many of our customers are setting ambitious targets to decarbonize their transport and energy systems, and we are proudly supporting them on this critical path with a suite of solutions including carbon capture and battery storage, as well as laying the ground for electric vehicles and futuristic modes of transport.

The next chapter for the infrastructure sector will deal with growing complexities and unknowns. Radical solutions will need to be rooted in meticulous planning and certainty of delivery. Master-planning for the future needs to go above and ‘beyond’ its traditional scope to capitalize on this great opportunity for long-term positive change.  

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