Claude Pelzer – Managing Director, De Regt Marine Cables, a Sercel Company – Netherlands
Claude Pelzer highlights De Regt Marine Cables’ move into the oil and gas and energy markets in such applications as ROVs, BOPs, and trenchers and De Regt’s customized cable products that offer a total package solution suited to client needs.
Where does De Regt Marine Cables stand today in the market?
De Regt Marine Cables is a leading designer and manufacturer of custom-engineered dynamic cable solutions for subsea applications and is part of the Sercel Group, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of innovative seismic equipment and reservoir monitoring instruments, for more than two years now. As the equipment division of CGG, Sercel is very much committed to the quality of our products and systems, and I want to use Sercel’s knowledge, network and expertise to promote synergies with De Regt Marine Cables. I have been appointed as Managing Director to integrate De Regt within Sercel.
What leadership directives have driven your tenure thus far as managing director?
De Regt has a clear expertise in the seismic world for two types of cables – the leads-ins, which pull the antenna behind the ship, and umbilicals, for the air gun behind the vessel that creates the wave. My strategy is to build upon the knowledge and R&D capacity we have in-house to develop new products and to expand into new market niches.
At the moment, approximately 70 percent of De Regt’s business is focused on the seismic sector with 20 percent devoted to the defense industries, and the remaining 10 percent in the oil and gas and energy markets. One of our main priorities has been to change this mix and grow the company within the oil and gas and energy markets given the plethora of opportunities for innovative, value-adding companies like De Regt Marine Cables. In oil and gas and energy, our cables offer ideal solutions for remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), blowout preventers (BOPs), and large trenchers, deep sea mining systems and other applications. De Regt already serves clients in a variety of locations in Europe, Asia, North America, and we are now devoting efforts to building the business in the oil and energy market. Overall, we possess the skills and capacities to design and build cables for the oil and gas and energy market segment and to convince a conservative industry of the merits of our products.
Finally, we want to secure the knowledge of this company and to improve quality, and through this ramp-up in quality, create new efficiencies. Another aim is to change the mindset of people about QHSE (Quality Health Safety Environment).
Due to the more cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry, many players are divesting non-core assets and implementing aggressive cost reduction strategies. How can clients unlock more value by partnering with De Regt Marine Cables, as opposed to some of your peers in the industry?
The crude price has indeed dropped significantly, and many companies have either undertaken lay-offs or cut capex plans for the coming months or even year. I see the opportunity for customers to use the knowledge and strength of De Regt as a partner to optimize products and services. We want to be prepared and ready to supply new products and equipment, especially new technology. De Regt Marine Cables is focused on building long term relationships and furthering its reputation as a reliable company committed to delivering the products clients need, especially at a time when quality and efficiency are at the top of every energy companies’ agenda.
De Regt Marine Cables’ umbilical solutions cater to a variety of segments from seismic to defense and oil and gas. What crucial design factors does the company’s products incorporate to ensure the utmost standards in quality, reliability, and efficiency across these segments?
To start with, we always use the highest quality material for our cables. Our knowledge in terms of copper components and fiber optics is unmatched in our market segment, while our capacity to manufacture armored components is appreciated by clients. These cables combine maximum strength with minimum diameter and are proven to have an extremely long mean time before failure, even in harsh conditions. De Regt does not only design and manufacture cables but also designs and manufactures the terminations that connects cables to the vehicle or system. Our total package cable solution stands out in the industry and is one of the clear strengths of De Regt. Being specialized in dynamic cables is a must in these types of application.
Most importantly, though, we truly listen to the clients’ requirements. I have noticed that some cable suppliers in the industry supply more standardized cables that do not always align with the clients’ needs. At De Regt, we do not produce product according to stock, instead we customize the vast majority of our cables. Our long-term expertise in the industry allows us to advise clients on the kind of product that works best in a specific environment and design an appropriate solution.
Finally, we are also working to build partnerships in the oil and gas sector. For example, we have identified a large customer in oil and gas who is keen to partner with De Regt. Thanks to our capacity to produce both cables and terminations.
What type of conceivable expanded applications do you envision for the company’s technology in the future?
I would like to enter the deep sea mining segment, an exciting new market. Cables in this segment would need to reach 5-10,000 meters deep, which creates a challenge to develop a cable that can withstand very high pressures all the while weighing significantly less than existing cables. The steel we use means that our current cables are very heavy, and we are working on new materials to replace the steel with lighter alternatives while maintaining strength and robustness.
What type of R&D initiatives has De Regt Marine Cables pursued to preserve its competitive positioning in the market?
De Regt boasts over 90 years of technological innovation and continues to house a strong R&D professional team to develop new products. We see ourselves as a technology partner to the industry and work both on conceptual R&D and on specific projects with clients. Our team is currently undertaking projects in areas such as alternative types of copper to improve durability and novel insulation materials to withstand high temperatures.
On the knowledge side of the business, we are focusing on facilitating knowledge transfer from our long-standing employees to the younger generation. In the R&D department itself, we have some employees with more than 20 years’ experience. Sharing and transfer is crucial in our business and we line up training plans to ensure knowledge continuity.
How much of a role does QHSE play into the company’s day-to-day operations? What policies or procedures display that conviction?
For our clients, the most important aspect is the reliability of the cable, as they can be in use 24/7 in harsh environments. Since my arrival in 2013, I have implemented a more rigorous system to test and qualify prototypes before selling the final customized product. This qualification process ensures that all cable systems are fully reliable from day one.
Sercel has a strong QHSE culture. When we acquired De Regt, a relatively small plant with 120 people, we were prepared to invest to bring the company’s QHSE policy in line with our high standards. I have put into place an HSE mainboard, as well as a data collection system for quality. I have thus implemented a qualified set-up per machine with qualified instructions and a qualified operators. On a daily basis we work as a team to continuously improve QHSE.
Can you please highlight a cable solution that De Regt has provided to the oil and gas industry in the last two years and of which you are particularly proud?
For a large offshore pipe-lay and subsea construction company, we have provided a 140 millimeter diameter cable that drives a trencher at 500 meters deep. The cable contains many copper components – providing a substantial quantity of electric power, as well as fiber optics and an armoring with steel wire.
Within the next five years where would you like to take the company?
De Regt Marine Cables will maintain our current levels of activity in seismic and most substantially, we are working to grow the oil and energy business by 20% to 25% per year over the next 5 years.
Furthermore, I want all De Regt Marine Cables employees to be proud of what we are doing. Today we are quite well known in the seismic market, and I want our whole team to see the benefits of going into a new domain, being flexible, agile, and keen to answer new customer’s needs. This change will bring more power and strength to our company. I am committed to lead our team to be proud of finding new customers, to be focus on making them happy, and encouraging to ensure repeat business.
What three words would you like clients to think of when they think of De Regt Marine Cables?
I would like De Regt Marine Cables to be focused on; reliability, flexibility and most of all the customer.