RICE has great international ambitions. For several years now, our teams have been working to strengthen our reputation and presence in North America, the United States and Canada. Michel Hardy, Program Officer, explains how we go about it.
To live up to its international development ambitions, RICE is fully in line with the various bodies that drive the global gas community. This is part of everyday business, at all times, through participation in conferences or involvement in research groups.
Of all the drivers available, there is one that is particularly useful when it comes to developing outside Europe and, in particular, penetrating the North American market: the PRCI – Pipeline Research Council International – which brings together, since 1952, the main players in our
industry and the oil industry. The objective of the PRCI is to maximize the impact of research efforts and contribute to the deployment of new solutions in the field through a highly effective funding system. It is the main international forum for gas research and therefore an essential tool to co-develop/co-finance our projects.
There are a lot of players in the U.S. market. This provides a far greater leverage than we can experience in Europe. We are working with our counterpart, Gas Technology Institute in Chicago, a research laboratory for U.S. distributors, but also with NYSearch, an association that raises funds from various U.S. distributors to launch calls for projects and manage a research and development portfolio.
These two organizations concentrate the funding of distributors and we are supported by them when responding to these calls for projects, carrying out the research and development and then working with the tools, methods and simulations developed by our teams.
We also work with a number of major distributors and carriers in the United States – SoCalGas in Los Angeles, Pacific Gas in San Francisco – as in Canada – Energir in Montreal. By exchanging information and signing memoranda of understanding, we show them our ability to do the job, we inform them of what we have been able to develop and we build a bond of trust that seals our future collaborative work, the response to U.S. government calls for tender for example.
The Americans have a very pragmatic approach, they generally operate in “Test and Learn” mode. This allows us to quickly test the solutions we want to develop in terms of their operational reality, and the business reality of the market.
At the moment, we have some fairly representative contracts with the various
American “utilities”. This is a long-term effort that we have been accomplishing for the last ten years or so, in order to make ourselves known to the main players. Our goal is also to show that solutions developed outside the United States can work successfully.
Today, RICE has gained real visibility on the North American market. Over the past two years, we have signed contracts through PRCI, the Gas Technology Institute and NYSearch. The latter give a relatively large co-funding leverage and allow us to develop large-scale projects, on the order of several million euros.