Gaztransport & Technigaz – Taking the Long View

We learn how GTT is adapting its technology and CSR approach for a changing present and an unpredictable future.

GTT (Gaztransport & Technigaz) is an engineering company serving the liquefied gas sector, but Philippe Berterottière, the company’s Chairman and CEO, sees it as something else on top of that.

“GTT is a technology company,” he tells us. “We have been developing cutting edge solutions for the last 60 years. Since the company was founded, it has been focusing on the very specific subject of developing a containment system in cryogenic conditions.”

The goal of its technology is to offer a solution to the energy sector for storing and transporting liquefied gas. This is what GTT is for. It develops technologies to transport high volumes of liquified gas for the energy sector. It is an important sector, but one where GTT can deliver a number of competitive edges.

“Our first unique selling point is that our technology is unique. We are the only company to develop such a technology,” GTT says. “It relies on decades of R&D, fine-tuning, trial and error, and we have developed a patented, well-protected technology that we continue to invest in every year. We offer unbeaten performance for an unbeaten price.”

As well as developing and perfecting the technology, GTT also does a lot of work to bring that technology to the mainstream.

“In order to always reach a better energy performance, which combines operational efficiency and safety, GTT maintains reliable relationships with all stakeholders of the gas industry and works with shipyards, ship-owners, classification societies and gas companies.”

A Time of Transition

It is important work, and the stakes are only getting higher, as GTT points out.

“We think the first challenge we face is the same one that the whole of humanity is facing. That is the energy transition. We all know we need to decarbonize, and GTT is committed to being a key player in providing a greener way to produce energy. We work in the natural gas industry, which is a carbonated industry, but we are on the path to decarbonization.”

The first thing GTT is doing to aid this transition is promoting liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy alternative to oil or coal.

“LNG is an energy of the future which is part of the energy transition thanks to the low impact of its combustion on the environment, its energy efficiency and its abundant reserves. It is a solution that is available today,” GTT says. “We have the infrastructure for it and the technology. We know today that LNG generates 30% less CO2 than fuel oil and eliminates all fine particle and Sulphur emissions. Just by replacing coal and oil with LNG, we have taken an important step towards decarbonisation.”

The second step is to promote all the uses of that energy source as a fuel.

GTT’s work is going beyond LNG storage and transport, however, into more energy-efficient ways of powering the ships themselves. “We are looking to the future and what the low carbon fuel of tomorrow will be. LNG as a fuel is a solution for reducing the environmental footprint of ships. We are looking at different solutions: biofuels, biogas, and hydrogen. Besides, last year, we acquired a company designing electrolysis processes to produce green hydrogen, called Elogen.”

This new technological frontier is one that GTT is still investing heavily in.

“It is a chance for GTT to be able to spend the time and money, $30 million a year, to develop technologies, invent new materials, and find new ways to assemble materials which will be operated in conditions that nobody before us has experienced,” explains GTT. “It is really about how to push the frontier a little bit further every day in terms of materials and understanding the subject, at the crossroad of cryogenics & mechanical constraints.”

“We have also addressed how we can make ships smarter. We have invested in digital companies providing tools, products, software, and data analysis,” says GTT.

Aside from the importance of the work, Berterottière also finds the work compelling in and of itself.

GTT points out, “It is a fascinating subject because even though the company has been working on it for 60 years, we continue to progress, even today, learning new things and new ways of doing things. We push the limits further and further.”

More Demanding Talent

As well as developing new technologies, GTT also needs to bring in a continuing stream of new talent to fuel its innovations.

“The challenge of attracting talent is usually underestimated,” GTT acknowledges. “We need to ensure we have a group of people creating a strong culture and purpose within the company so we can attract and retain the best assets.”

Berterottière argues that this is a bigger challenge today than ever as the new generation is more and more demanding when it comes to CSR standards.

“The number one question is ‘Why do people come to work for this company?’ To answer that, we need to go deeper than just the paycheque, otherwise, it will not be rewarding for the employee or the company,” GTT insists. “Part of my job is to constantly, every day, ask myself, why the best talent should come to GTT.”

The answer to that question is a combination of things. Firstly, Berterottière points to the company’s purpose.

“People like technology and want to be a part of the company.”

Once again, GTT’s identity as a technology company proves vital, drawing in new, innovative talent by demonstrating how much the company has invested into the technological sector. But GTT tells us it is also about the environment in which the work is taking place.

“We are a company offering a very good workplace, good compensation, and a good way of working,” GTT says. “We have people from many different countries. We also highlight our CSR schemes. We want to be net-zero carbon by 2025, we are committed to decarbonisation.”

Those CSR schemes are not only an important part of GTT’s identity and recruitment strategy, but they are also a topic of growing relevance.

“I think this has been a subject for which we have seen the influence growing over the last ten years. Today, I have the impression that when we look back at the years 2020, we will see it as a tipping point or a moment of acceleration, particularly around environmental and social causes,” GTT observes. “We see customers who want to buy the greenest ship- not the cheapest – and this is something we barely saw in the past, but now’s there is a strong demand for it. It comes from the consumers who are trying to buy smarter, more environmentally friendly products. The other aspect which is striking to me is that I clearly see a young generation that wants to make no compromise on these questions. People want to work and play for companies fulfilling a strong vision.”

But this is about more than a trend. GTT is a company that, by necessity, takes the long view.

“Something we all know but which has been emphasized by the covid crisis, which is the question of trust. When our customers are going to buy a ship, they will buy it for 40 years. Who is buying that way today in our daily life and the fast-moving world?” GTT asks. “Look at your day-to-day purchases, there are very few things you buy for that long. This is what we do at GTT. We’re developing a level of relationship with our customers so they know we’ll still be talking to them in 30 or 40 years.”

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