Some partnerships are just meant to be. Managing Director Supna Rania Karwanamurthi and her husband Syafiq Raj, executive director and CEO, have co-founded and built the FLUX Group from the ground up into a major player in the Brunei oil and gas industry. Their secret to a lasting, healthy relationship in business and love is to strive to find solutions to challenges and adapt to change.
The humble nature of Supna Rania Karwanamurthi, the co-founder and MD of FLUX, shines through immediately. “Both CEO Syafiq Raj (he’s also my husband!) and myself have poured our hearts and souls into the company since we started back in 2009,” she says. “So even though I’m the one talking to you now, it’s not just me who should get the recognition.” This modesty has helped her gain the respect of her peers in the oil and gas industry, where she’s held down a number of financial and operational roles over the last decade. The FLUX Group comprises of two subsidiaries, FLUX Integrated Solutions and FLUX O.S. Sdn Bhd (FOSSB) – in 2016 the former was re-registered as FLUX Integrated Solutions Sdn Bhd (FISSB) as part of a focused expansion strategy to meet market demands.
FOSSB is the first Bruneian company to specialise in delivering onshore well intervention and drilling services. The duo ensures their organisation works in tandem with the objectives of Brunei Government’s backed long-term development plan Vision Brunei 2035, designed to stimulate economic growth and develop a highly skilled and competent Bruneian workforce.
Syafiq himself can call on more than 25 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, notably in construction management, maintenance, and business development. He’s currently spearheading FLUX’s plans to diversifying its portfolio. In recent years, the organisation has benefitted from a change in government regulation, as Supna explains: “In 2012, when new directives on local business development framework were put in place allowing all citizens in the country to do business, we saw an opening. We looked at tenders in the industry that were coming up and to avoid the already saturated market we targeted an area dominated by international companies. As we are local, we had a competitive edge and provided real value for the country. This approach helped us to sign a seven-year deal with Brunei Shell Petroleum in 2013 for well intervention and abandonment services, and the contract permits three potential one-year extensions.”
The deal saw a heavy workover rig christened “FLUX SRD 1” deployed to Brunei in 2014. From this point on it was impossible to ignore FLUX in the oil and gas industry, and the company has been making waves ever since. Supna and Syafiq also moved to make sure they had full control over their business and day-to-day operations. “When we first started operating, we signed a five-year contract with our technical partner who provided us with technology and knowledge. Right from the start we were very involved and ensured that we put a very robust plan in place to develop of our local Bruneian advantage.
The business-minded couple have learned a lot on the job and worked incredibly hard to make sure the right management systems have been implemented. These include efficient operation protocol, maintenance, and procurement and accounting systems – all of which need to be operating like a well-oiled machine because FLUX deals with several international suppliers. All of the equipment the company brings in and delivers to clients, like for drilling jobs, must have the highest safety standards. In a bid to streamline procedures, especially those linked to documentation, Supna and Syafiq are always moving closer to digitizing workflow processes to improve accuracy, efficiency, and quality of service.
“We want to become completely paperless so we’re really working hard to implement our online management system, which really helps makes production planning and logistics more efficient,” says Supna. “At this stage, we basically know what works and what doesn’t, so by next year we should have this system fully implemented and things will run more smoothly. We want to get everything online to make things easier to access and to improve traceability, while also reducing hard copies of documents to help the environment.”